A dog bite can be serious for a young child. Apart from the physical injury, emotional trauma may occur, resulting in issues like post-traumatic stress disorder or a lifelong phobia of dogs.

Because most people frequently have contact with dogs, whether with their own, their neighbor’s pets, or dogs out and about in public, it’s a good idea to teach kids how to be safe around dogs, and how to read the warning signs that a dog might bite.

Always ask permission and approach with caution

The number one thing to teach is asking if it’s ok to pet a dog before approaching one. Kids must understand that a startled dog may bite, and that some dogs are not receptive to interactions with strangers. It’s a great way to teach respect and observing boundaries while staying safe.

If the dog’s owner gives permission, It’s equally important to teach kids how to approach a dog who belongs to someone else. Rather than running toward the dog, instruct children to let the dog come to them and sniff them before extending their arm toward the dog’s face. Make sure they pet a more neutral spot on the dog, such as along its back, and never from behind, as this might startle the dog.

Make sure you read the dog’s cues, and if it seems nervous or uncomfortable, calmly instruct your child to stop petting it and take a few steps back.

What are my options if the dog still bites my kid?

A dog bite requires immediate medical attention. Depending on how deep the wound is, stitches may also be necessary.

As for the legal implications, it can vary by city and state. Some places have dog bite statutes that hold dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their dog if the dog wasn’t provoked.

If a dog owner was aware there was a risk of biting, they may be held liable for the injuries inflicted. Similarly, if a dog owner was not properly controlling the dog before it bit, they can be held liable.

Some owners will voluntarily take responsibility, but many refuse, which is when it’s appropriate to bring the issue to court.

If you decide to take legal action, you can do so to get coverage for any injuries, property damage, emotional impacts, or disabilities that the bite results in. An attorney can help you determine how to best approach your case given your individual circumstances.