I saw a young boy (this week) who was bitten by a dog. Very sad as I began to think this is the time of the year that I will start seeing more bites. Why? Warmer weather brings families outdoors and I’ve noticed more dog parks popping up. I have experience with dog bites as a pediatrician and mom.
We are a dog family and my husband and I had our first dog, Mrs. Brown, before our oldest son was born. She was the “perfect” dog, a mutt that my brother (who is a vet) had found and gave yo us.
When the boys came along she was wonderful and would follow them around the yard and to the closest neighbors, I would always know where the kids were as Mrs. Brown would be waiting on the porch for them.
Our next dog was a golden retriever, Maddie, that our middle son wanted, and she too was a member of our family for 12 years. Sweet (but a bit lazy), she was so sad as each of our sons left for college. She was suddenly the only child left at home. It broke our hearts when she died and the boys had not gotten a chance to get home to see her.
Thinking we didn’t need a dog in a “empty” house was a mistake. The youngest son felt like he should have a dog (even though he was away at college) and I thought a little dog might be nice. No way, according to the youngest son, we “are a big dog family”, and so we now have 4 year old Maggie, a yellow lab. Sweet, smart and spoiled is all I can say.
Now, back to dog bites. I think it is important for children to be around dogs (and other pets as well) but to have a respect for them. Just like we teach children, “stranger danger”, the same goes for dogs. Teach your children not to approach strange dogs, or reach through a fence to pat a dog. Always ask the owner before trying to pet a dog.
I would not recommend buying your child a dog until they are around 4 years of age. But, if you already have a dog, bringing that new baby into the home gives the dog some time to get adjusted before they are having a toddler around. You as a pet owner should also know the temperament of your dog and if you sense any issues with your pet and aggression it may be best to find another home for the dog before your child is mobile. It doesn’t matter how careful one is, toddlers like to explore and that may mean that they are touching and petting the dog as well.
I know about dog bites from experience as our youngest son was bitten in the face by a friends dog. The bite was not provoked, but the dog came over while he was laying on the floor eating popcorn and watching a movie and went right for his face. A late night phone call, trip to ER and plastic surgeon and 20 stitches later my son still wanted to play at that friends house!! He loved dogs before, and still does. Just a freak “accident” but I can still see the scars. But, you know I am the mom!