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How to protect children from dog attacks

Illinois dog owners have a moral and legal obligation to prevent their dogs from attacking people. This especially applies to preventing their dogs from attacking children.

Children are smaller and can't fight back against dogs the way adults can, so they tend to be more susceptible to serious injury in a dog attack. Also, dogs may act more aggressively -- in unsuspecting ways -- against children, so dog owners need to be alert whenever their animals are in the vicinity of children.

How parents can teach their children to be wise around dogs

Every dog can bite and cause serious harm to a child -- even a dog you feel is friendly and docile could change his or her character in the presence of a child. For this reason, parents need to teach their kids to stay safe with the following dog safety advice:

  • Let sleeping dogs lie: If a dog is asleep, playing with a bone or toy, taking care of puppies, or eating, children should stay away. Animals can become very focused when eating, sleeping or otherwise concentrated on something, and startling the dog could result in aggressive behavior.
  • Stay away from barking and growling dogs: Children shouldn't try to calm down an angry or aggressive dog. Also, if the dog appears frightened, children should give the dog as much space as possible.
  • Don't touch unknown dogs without first asking permission: If a dog is unknown to your child, he or she should ask the dog owner if it's okay before touching it. Even then, the child should allow the dog to sniff his or her closed hand before touching it. Avoid petting the dog on its head. It's better to touch its chest and shoulders.
  • Never pet an enclosed dog: If the dog is inside a fence or inside a car, the dog could become aggressive as it tries to protect its home space.
  • Never approach an unattended dog: Children should know not to touch or make contact with unleashed dogs outside. There is no way to know how this dog will act, and the child should tell an adult as soon as possible.
  • Don't run away from a dog or scream: When an unknown dog approaches your child, he or she should stand still, avoid eye contact and back away slowly while waiting for the dog to leave.

Teach your children so they can stay safe

Not all dog owners are responsible with their animals. Although legal remedies may be available to a child following a dog attack, it is much better to teach your child the above dog safety tips to help him or her avoid injury in the first place.

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