What to Do if a Family Dog Suddenly Bites a Child

by Mary Lougee
    "This is my bone. Go find your own."

    "This is my bone. Go find your own."

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    If your family dog bites a child, take care of the child first. If the bite causes a break in the skin, stop the bleeding and seek medical care. Isolate the dog in a safe environment so he can't bite anyone else. Even friendly dogs can bite a child, especially a young child, if they lack of socialization with each other. Most dogs don't like to be poked or prodded by toddlers. Some act out in an aggressive manner. Learning the types and signs of aggression can keep peace in your household between your fur buddy and children.

    Types of Aggression

    Several types of aggression appear in canines, especially when children are involved with your pet without being socialized with your canine friend, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Fear-motivated aggression occurs when your pet thinks you will strike him or threaten him. Protective aggression occurs when your pet perceives a threat to a member of his pack. Territorial aggression can be seen when your furry friend protects his environment. Many dogs exhibit possession aggression to protect food and toys from children. Redirected aggression is usually misunderstood by humans. If a dog is in the front yard and your dog is inside and cannot protect his territory, he may become angry and lash out.

    Canine Aggression Triggers

    Children do not always understand the warning signs: A growl or snarl can lead to a bite. Kids may take toys from a pet, try to pet a dog when he is eating, play too rough or startle a dog, which can trigger aggression. Some children inappropriately think that when a dog growls, it is funny and continue until it prompts a nip or bite. At times a family pet may get too excited while playing, and nip or bite at his playmate.

    Supervision for Children and Dogs

    Supervising all interactions between a child and your dog can prevent aggression triggers and keep kids safe. Teaching children not to do things that your dog doesn't like will help to have a happy household without a child tormenting your furry friend and without the family pet challenging a child. A dog can act aggressively for seemingly no reason. These dogs always need supervision around humans. In the case of redirected aggression, give your dog a wide berth if he is protecting his territory, so an innocent bystander doesn't get hurt. There should be no reason for a human, especially a child, to be fearful of a family dog.

    Canine Body Language

    When a dog freezes or abruptly stops what he is doing and gives someone a hard stare, it can be a sign of impending aggression. Some pet's eyes may bulge slightly and show more white than normal. This is the point when you are supervising your dog and a child that you teach the child to stop doing whatever is bothering the dog. If it occurs for no reason, teach the child to back away from the family pooch. If the freeze doesn't warn humans, it can be followed by growling, showing teeth, snapping and even biting.

    Warnings for Aggression

    Never punish a dog for his aggressive behavior, it tends to make the behavior worse and occur more often by being fear motivated. An animal behavior specialist can assist you to rehabilitate your aggressive pooch to remove the triggers. Spaying and neutering dogs may help to relieve aggression that may make him act territorial and protective.

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    About the Author

    Mary Lougee is a writer in Texas who writes on a wide variety of subjects from home improvement to pet care. Her love of animals led to building a farm and caring for rescue animals from equine and swine to dogs and cats. She holds a bachelor's degree in management.

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