At times, friendly dogs and cats can bite and scratch. A pet bird, reptile, or rabbit can also bite or scratch. Young children are at special risk. But you can help prevent problems around pets and other animals by respecting them.
Each year, about 500 people in New Zealand are bitten by dogs. Children under the age of 10 were the most vulnerable and most dog bite injuries happened in private residences or homes. The good news is that most dog bites can be prevented.
The majority of dog bites involving young children happen in familiar environments with dogs they know. Many people report that these bites seem to come “out of the blue”, that the dog just snapped without any warning. The reality is that there are many factors that lead up to dog bites. And that many of these bites could have been prevented through awareness, supervision, and education of parents and children with SAFE.
Most dogs do give warning signs of their stress and discomfort, and most people are simply unaware of these signals or ignore them. Learning to read a dog’s body language and becoming more aware of their stress levels when they are interacting with children can help diffuse situations before bites occur.
You can learn smart ways of interacting with dogs, such as gently petting instead of hugging and kissing, respecting the dog’s space during mealtimes and when sleeping, and not treating the dog like an object or toy. SAFE helps children develop skills that not only promotes dog bite prevention, but builds a relationship between your children and dogs based on trust and cooperation.