“Mommy, can I pet the nice doggy?” If your child asks you before reaching out to pet a dog, you are lucky. Many children instinctively reach out, regardless of breed, size or history.

While Georgia law does allow dog bite claims, it is much better to avoid dog bites in the first place. However adorable a dog may seem, it could still bite your child. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) gives these tips to keep your child safe from dog bites:

  • Ask first: Asking mummy is not enough. You need to ask the dog’s owner. They know their dog and its temperament better than anyone.
  • Stay away from dogs you don’t know: If a dog is wandering around on its own, and you cannot see the owner, stay away.
  • Teach your child how to behave around dogs: Dogs interpret behavior differently than humans. Running away may mean, “Oh good, we are going to play chase.” Raising a hand or voice may mean, “This person is going to attack my owner, I had better strike first.”
  • Don’t annoy a dog: Just like humans, some dogs have a higher tolerance for children than others.
  • Don’t leave your child alone with a dog: However well you know a dog, do not take the risk.

If your child does get bitten by a dog, whether you followed these guidelines or not, you may be able to claim for the personal injury and expenses caused. Georgia law sets out certain conditions in which you can and cannot claim against a dog’s owner.