Unsupervised Children

Out of 4.5 million dog attack victims in the United States each year, over half are children. Children are much more susceptible to dog attacks, as children usually do not know what behaviors will provoke a dog attack. Children are also smaller, which puts them closer to the dog’s level and may lead dogs to see them as prey. Children should never be left unsupervised with dogs, regardless of how familiar the dog is.

Unsupervised Children and Dog Attacks

Studies have shown that unsupervised children are most at risk for dog bites. The majority of dog attacks on children happened when the family dog was left alone with the child. Studies also indicate that once a dog has bitten a child, the dog will be more likely to bite again. These attacks are often severe, as children’s faces are at the same level as the dog’s, and the dog will often go for the child’s eyes.

Unsupervised Children’s Behavior

Unsupervised children are much more likely to engage in behavior that will provoke the dog to attack. This is sometimes inadvertent, but in many cases unsupervised children engage in behavior that parents would normally correct. Unsupervised children will be more likely to run, scream, or poke the dog when an adult is not around to reprimand the behavior.

Unsupervised Children Dangers

It is also dangerous to leave children unsupervised with dogs because an attack is much more likely to be fatal or severe. If an adult is not around to stop the attack, the dog may continue to attack the unsupervised child. The child may also not be able to call for help or may incur further injuries while trying to escape.

Preventing Dog Attacks on Children

The best way to prevent dog attacks on children is to ensure that the dog is well cared for and trained, and that the children are educated on proper behavior when interacting with dogs. Dogs that get enough exercise and food are less likely to attack when provoked. Dogs that have been trained will have better control over predatory instincts. However, any dog is capable of a dog attack depending on the circumstances, so dog owners should be diligent to supervise the dog during interactions, particularly with children.

In order to prevent dog attacks, children should be taught:

  • To avoid unknown dogs
  • Never run or scream when a dog is around
  • Never tease, hit, or poke a dog
  • Never take a dog’s food, water, or toys
  • Never wake a sleeping dog




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“Dog Bites.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Oct 2013. Web. 16 Jan 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/dog-bites/index.html>.

“Fatal Dog Attack Studies.” National Canine Research Foundation. National Canine Research Foundation, 30 Jun 2005. Web. 16 Jan 2014. <http://www.americancaninefoundation.com/images/FatalDogAttackStudy2.htm>.

“Study Shows Young, Unsupervised Children Most at Risk for Dog Bites.” The Regents of the University of Colorado. The Regents of the University of Colorado, 09 Nov 2010. Web. 16 Jan 2014. <http://www.ucdenver.edu/about/newsroom/newsreleases/Pages/DogBiteConcern.asp&xgt;.