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If your idea of a dog most likely to bite a child is a hungry, feral mongrel who comes upon a youngster accidentally, you’re way off. Most dog bites inflicted on children occur at home by the family pet. Generally speaking, the younger the child, the greater the risk, research finds. And boys are more likely to be bitten than girls.
In fact, a recent study suggests boys are 60 percent more likely than girls to be bitten by the family dog. Investigators from the School of Veterinary Medicine in Dublin, Ireland, and the veterinary school at the University of California, Davis, looked at 300 children living with dogs in San Francisco and Kingston, Jamaica.
Other findings: Intact dogs — whether male or female — were about three times more likely to bite youngsters. Not surprisingly, chaining a dog or confining one to a kennel, pen, crate, or room for some portion of the day also raised the risk for a bite to a child.
Tufts veterinarians recommend children younger than 6 never be left alone with a dog, not even for a moment — no matter how gentle the child and no matter how docile the pet. And children should be taught about respectful treatment of the family pet from as young an age as possible.