Teaching children the safe way to interact with dogs

Children are the most common victims of dog bites. It is important to teach them the proper ways to interact with dogs.

Countless households in California, as well as across the country, have at least one dog as a member of the family. While in most cases, dogs get along just fine with people, there are some instances that go quite the opposite. Dog bites, in fact, occur much more frequently than people might realize. In 2014, according to Bankrate, California was the top state for dog bite claims, with 1,867 claims filed that year. Many other bites go unreported.

Canine animal attacks are terrifying and they can result in lifelong scars, disabling injuries or death. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs across the country every year. Children and senior citizens are among those most likely to be bitten. Most dog bites occur when victims are doing everyday activities with a dog they know, such as feeding or playing with the pet. Out of all the dog bites reported every year, about one in five need medical treatment.

Safe behavior around dogs

Understandably, parents may want to know how to teach their children to avoid being seriously injured or worse in a dog attack. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following tips may be useful:

•· Never run up to a dog that is unfamiliar. Only pet a dog after getting permission from the owner, and allow it to sniff the hand first.

•· When frightened, don't run away from a dog or make loud noises. This may trigger the animal's predator instinct. Instead, remain still and look at the ground, not into the dog's eyes.

•· Wait until the dog loses interest or slowly back away from it.

•· If a dog attacks, attempt to distract it by having it bite a backpack, jacket or other item instead. Fall on the ground, curl into a ball and use the arms to protect the neck and head.

•· Never bother a dog that is eating, sleeping or taking care of puppies.

•· Don't encourage a dog to play aggressively, such as playing biting games or tug-of-war. Small children should not be allowed to play unsupervised with any dog, regardless of size.

These dog safety rules are not only important for children to understand, but adults and senior citizens should learn them too.

If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, you may be eligible for compensation from the animal's owner. You will need to contact an Anaheim personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite cases. An attorney should review the circumstances surrounding the attack, including whose property the bite occurred on, what the victim was doing at the time of the bite and any prior incidents involving that particular dog.