Millions of children in California and across the country celebrated Halloween this week with that rewarding tradition of going door to door for candy and other treats. But during Halloween and the upcoming winter holiday season, children may be especially susceptible to the risk of being injured during an encounter with a dog. In addition to trick-or-treating, children also visit the homes of friends, neighbors, relatives or classmates for a variety of holiday parties and other festivities. How can precautions be taken so that a child does not suffer a dog bite during these visits?
When it comes to trick-or-treating, children and their parents may want to avoid homes where they hear a dog barking or observe a dog running free off a leash in a yard. Even when they're visiting homes of people they know, children should be told never to approach or pet a strange dog, and to remain still if they visit a home where a dog appears or runs out when the door is open. A child wearing an unfamiliar costume may appear as a threat even to a dog who knows them.
It is clear that a dog, especially one unaccustomed to the child's presence, may become frightened or on edge when children run around or scream, especially when attired in Halloween costumes. A constant stream of visitors, whether it's for Halloween or a Christmas party, might also be unsettling to a dog's routine. Dogs may bark when they see visitors, so closing drapes may be helpful.
Dog owners intent on making sure that their pet does not get involved in an attack on a child should make sure to secure the dog behind a closed door when visitors are anticipated, or put the dog on a leash if children will otherwise be visiting a household. Giving a dog a chew toy can also be helpful as is playing a TV or music in the room where the dog is to muffle the sounds of the child visitors.
Source: CBS DFW, "Halloween Dog Bite Prevention Tips," Oct. 25, 2012
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