Media release

Children’s education key to curbing dog bites

When it comes to preventing dog bites, outlawing dangerous breeds is futile – our focus should be on teaching children how to be more canine-savvy, writes Queensland paediatric surgeon, Professor Roy Kimble in an editorial in the December issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

According to Professor Kimble, there is little evidence to show that one breed is more dangerous than another – all dogs can bite, he stressed. “Breed-specific legislation fails to take into account that any breed of dog can be dangerous when in the hands of an irresponsible owner who fails to provide good and early training”, he wrote.

However research did indicate that education programs in a primary school setting could alter a child’s interaction with dogs, he wrote.

He said children should be taught:

-          to ask permission from the owner before slowly approaching an unfamiliar dog;

-          never to run from a dog or scream;

-          to stand still if approached by a strange dog, and if knocked over, roll into a ball and lie still;

-          to avoid eye contact with the dog by looking at their own feet;

-          not to disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies; and

-          not to pat a dog without supervision or without allowing it to see and sniff them first.

Professor Kimble also said dog owners should take their dogs to obedience classes and dogs should be taught to obey commands from all family members.

He said dogs used for hunting or as guard dogs should not be allowed to mix with children.

The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.

The statements or opinions that are expressed in the MJA reflect the views of the authors and do not represent the official policy of the AMA or the MJA unless that is so stated.


CONTACTS:             Professor Roy Kimble                        Ph: 04 3971 4360

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