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Teach your kids to read dogs’ body language to avoid bites

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Personal Injury

Most kids see a dog and want to pet it. But not all dogs are eager to be handled by unfamiliar, exuberant children, or even kids that they may know well.

While it’s true that dogs don’t “talk” using language, they certainly communicate their feelings and intentions. Learning the signs of a dog’s obvious discomfort — and teaching those signs to your children — could save them from a serious or even fatal dog attack.

Learning canine “sign” language

When a dog comes running towards you, is it excited to greet you? Or is it launching an attack? Below are some signals dogs give out when they prefer to be left alone and are uneasy around children or certain adults.

  • An upright, stiffened tail – This is a clear sign of a dog that is on alert. It might be about to lunge and attack. While a sweeping, furiously wagging tail typically signals friendliness and joy, a slowly wagging tail can also be a warning sign.
  • The “whale eye” – When a dog gives someone the side-eye, the whites of their eyes show as crescents, similar to a whale’s. They are telling you as best they can that the situation is making them quite uncomfortable.
  • Tail tucked between their legs – This is a universal sign of fear in canines, and unfortunately, some dogs are “fear biters” who lash out with their sharp teeth when they feel cornered.
  • Growling – Often, this is the final step before a dog bites. They are trying to tell you (or your child) that this is their final warning before the gnashing of teeth on tender flesh.

These are not the only signs, and not all dogs display them before they attack. But most dogs do communicate their intentions to humans. But many people disregard the signs that precede a bite because they don’t realize what the dog is communicating.

If your child gets bitten

Minor dog bites can be washed and bandaged. But some dog attacks are brutal and can leave permanent damage. Seek medical help immediately if that occurs. Learning more about holding the dog’s owner responsible for the damage their pet caused is also a wise move.