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Protecting your child from dog bites on Halloween

Halloween is a big night for children -- and for dogs. The nonstop visitors to their home can send even calm dogs into a frenzy of excitement. Dogs, who are generally naturally protective of their homes and their people, can act out in ways that may be unusual for them. That can result in dog bites.

When you take your kids trick-or-treating, you need to be particularly careful when you see a dog, wherever it is. Even a dog who is trick-or-treating on a leash with its family can pull loose and charge at fellow trick-or-treaters.

People should keep their dogs in a part of the house where they can't "greet" trick-or-treaters. It's too easy for a dog to run out the door and be halfway down the street in a matter of seconds.

Moreover, even if your kids know a dog, it may not recognize them when they're wearing a costume and mask and perhaps carrying a light saber or wand. It may become frightened or see them as a threat. Remind your kids not to approach any dog, even one they know.

If you encounter a dog who has gotten out of its house or is otherwise unsupervised, don't engage it. Look away. To a dog, staring is a challenge. Don't let your kids wave at it. Don't let them run up to (or away from) it. A running child will likely cause a dog to give chase.

Teach your kids that if they encounter a dog they don't know (on Halloween or any day) to "be a tree." Stand still and don't scream or giggle. This will help keep the dog calm. If they get knocked down by a dog, teach them to "be a log." They should roll up, stay quiet and cover their faces until the dog goes away.

If you have particular concerns about any of your neighbors' dogs on Halloween, talk to them ahead of time about what their plans are for keeping their dog away from trick-or-treaters, or just avoid their house completely.

If your child is bitten, it's important to get whatever medical attention is needed right away. If your child suffers injuries that require a doctor's care or hospitalization, you can determine what your legal options are for seeking compensation for medical costs and other damages.

Source: 2 Dawg Nite, "9 Tips to Prevent Dog Bites on Halloween," accessed Oct. 26, 2017

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