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Children & Dogs Can Be A Dangerous Mix

While the old saying “the dog is man’s best friend” may be true in many cases, it’s not a guarantee, and it’s not an assumption anyone should make when a dog and a child that have never interacted before meeting for the first time. A dog, even domesticated, is still an animal, processing the world with its own rules, social signals and boundaries. A child is still learning about how the world works, and frequently tests rules or boundaries, or does something due to a lack of awareness that there are rules and boundaries.

For people that own dogs, this can put their animal—and by association, the owner—at some legal risk if pre-cautions aren’t taken.

You’re Responsible

A dog is not cognizant in the same way a person is. It can’t engage in discussion, can’t be warned of laws or regulations, and does need or have to understand the social nuance of person-to-person interactions. This means that as loving and friendly as dogs can be, there’s also a certain unpredictability to them for people that don’t take the time to understand how dogs see and interact with the world.

These types of misunderstandings can sometimes result in injuries, where a dog bites another person. Dog bites, as with any injury, can run the gamut from superficial to fatal, depending on how intense the attack is. However, unlike with people, a dog is not legally considered responsible for the damage it incurs. If a person owns the dog, then it is the owner that must now answer to the law for the harm the dog has inflicted.

The Child Risk

This is why for both dog owners and for a parent with a young child going to the home of a dog owner, exercising caution around a first-time meeting should be the order of the day. This is especially true if a child has had little or no experience with animals of any kind.

A child who has never interacted with an animal may not understand the difference between petting and hitting. A child may not understand warning signs from dogs like growling if they feel threatened. A child can’t be expected to know how the biology of a dog works, and the sensitivity and discomfort that may be caused from pulling on a tail, or even trying to swing a small dog by the tail.

Without proper supervision, a child’s first exposure to a dog can be a traumatic one if the dog misinterprets the child’s harmful actions as a deliberate attack and responds with retaliation of its own in self-defense.

The Measured Response

If your child or someone else you know has been injured as a result of a dog bite, be sure to act appropriately. If it’s clear, there was some negligence on the part of the dog owner, and a dog attack could have been easily avoided, talk to a dog bite attorney, to get solid legal advice on what the next steps should be to address the issue and ensure justice is served.