Children face serious risks from dog bites. Because they’re so much smaller than adults, many of these bites involve the face and neck area, rather than the hands or legs.

As an adult, keeping a child safe starts with identifying why dogs may bite children. This can help you keep kids out of problematic situations. A few examples include:

  • The child is trying to take a toy or some other possession that the dog thinks of as its own.
  • The dog is eating or attempting to guard food.
  • The child surprised the dog, perhaps by touching it while it was asleep.
  • The dog thinks that the child’s style of play is overly aggressive.
  • The child accidentally hurt the dog, perhaps by pulling on its hair.
  • The dog has little patience due to its age. Dogs’ attitudes can change significantly as they get older.
  • The child is moving quickly — riding a bike or running, for instance — and the dog’s predator/prey instincts kicked in.
  • The dog has gotten sick or injured and is more prone to lashing out at any minor threat.
  • The dog is just trying to play with the child and does not realize that it is biting too hard.

No matter why a child gets bitten by a dog, the results can be catastrophic. The child may need emergency treatment and even surgery. The scars can last for life, and they can be very detrimental to a child’s development when they appear on the face or in other visible areas. Parents need to know all of the legal options that they have after the attack.