Facts and myths about kids and the risk of dog bites

Kids around dogs risk injury more often than expected, so learn about dog safety.

Know the facts and myths to reduce the risk

To find out how much kids know about the behavior of dogs, the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition created a quiz for kids 5-9 years old. This quiz was distributed by State Farm and the Prevent the Bite organization in schools and community organizations.

710 kids answered the quiz, but not a single one answered the 12 questions correctly:

34% answered they had been bitten at least once.

50% who completed the quiz in Spanish answered they had been bit.

Can your child answer correctly?

“Do dogs wag their tails when they’re angry?

Only 33% answered correctly (Answer: Yes)

“Is a frightened dog as dangerous as an angry dog?”

Only 27% knew the correct answer. (Answer: Yes)

“Do dogs like to be hugged and kissed?”

Only 24% answered correctly (Answer: Yes)

True or False?

Playful fights with puppies are a bad idea

True. “Fake” fights encourage the aggressive instinct of the puppy and to use its mouth. It’s one of the most common training mistakes made by novice owners.

Fifty percent of children will be bitten before they turn 12.

True, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and most of these bites will be from a familiar dog, either the family’s or the neighbor’s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the injury rate is higher for adolescents (57 percent) than for teenagers (43 percent) aged 14 and younger.

Babies can’t bother dogs, so it's okay to leave them alone.

False. It’s a terrible idea. If a dog is possessive with its toys, it could also be possessive with the baby’s rattle or pacifier. Conclusion: a dog may feel stressed even if the baby is not interacting with it.

Puppies who are used to a lot of people are less likely to bite.

True. Proper socialization is paramount, says Pamela Reid, a certified animal behavior specialist and vice president of the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. "The period between 7 to 16 weeks of age is absolutely crucial for the puppies to learn to socialize with people and other animals," notes Reid, who advises taking puppies to family parties, to walk down the street and elsewhere where they can meet other animals and people.

Run and scream if a strange dog approaches you.

False. If a strange dog approaches you and you’re standing, don’t move. If you’re sitting or lying down, don’t move either. Control the urge to scream or jiggle your arms because this will only make the dog more nervous. And never try to run faster than a dog, since you would never outrun it, neither running nor biking.

How to prevent dog bites

These measures can reduce the risk of dog bites:

Sterilization (Spaying or Neutering). This procedure helps reduce aggressive behavior.

Socialization at an early age. Expose your puppy to situations and different people as soon as possible. Socialization that starts at a young age results in more relaxed and passive adult dogs. However, pay close attention to stress signals during socialization, since stress is one of the main causes of aggressive behavior.

Hire a professional. If your dog shows signs of aggressive behavior, a trainer may be able to help him.

Know what causes your dog stress so you learn to avoid it. If your dog growls in the presence of children, keep them away.

Top 10 states with the most claims for injuries caused by dogs.

In 2014, State Farm paid nearly 115 million dollars as a result of 3,500 claims caused by dog injuries.

Over the past 5 years, the insurer paid 528 million dollars for claims related to dogs.

An insurance policy is an important aspect of being a responsible dog owner. When you rent, make sure you have rental insurance, because most owners don’t provide coverage if a dog bites someone. If you’re an owner, talk to your insurance agent about coverage in relation to dogs under a standard homeowner policy.



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The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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