Preventing Dog Bites: What You (and Your Kids) Need to Know

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kids with dog

Every year about 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs. Among these, most are children. As a parent, you can reduce this risk by teaching your children smart behavior around dogs. Laying the groundwork early will go a long way towards preventing dog bites and keeping your family (and your dog) safe. Here are some basics.

  1. Never leave a young child unsupervised with a dog. This goes for any dog, including your family dog. Until you are 100% certain that your child is old enough to understand dog behavior and demonstrate good judgment, you should oversee all contact.
  2. Never interact with a loose dog.  If your child sees a dog running in the neighborhood, they should not approach it. Exercise your judgment as to whether you should approach the dog to find the owner or contact Animal Control.
  3. An eating or sleeping dog is off limits. This is the dog’s personal time. Leave him alone.
  4. If a dog wants to be alone, let him. If a dog removes himself from a situation by going into his crate or another room, respect his space.
  5. No teasing. This goes for withholding toys and treats, and pulling tails and ears.
  6. No “roughhousing” with the dog. Don’t let your children climb on, drag around or wrestle with the dog. No yelling in the dog’s face.
  7. Greet dogs correctlyWhen approaching a dog you do not know, always ask the owner if it’s okay to pet the dog. If the owner says it’s ok, proceed to greet the dog this way:
    • No direct eye contact (eye contact can be interpreted as aggression)
    • Approach the dog from the side (never from above as this can be interpreted as dominance)
    • Let the dog approach and sniff you first (don’t force yourself on the dog)
    • If the dog looks at ease and willing, pet him on the side of his face, body or back (not his ears or tail)
  8. Recognize signs that dog is anxious/fearful and leave him alone:
    • Cowering
    • Licking lips (when no food is nearby)
    • Panting (when not overheated)
    • Furrowed brow
    • Walking in slow motion
    • Yawning (when they’re not tired)
    • Hyper-vigilance/pacing
    • Trying to move away
  9. Recognize a dog’s basic body language. Teach your kids at a level they can understand now, and reinforce it as they grow.

Dog bite prevention - postures

10. Teach your child to “be a tree”.  If your child ever feels uncomfortable or threatened by a dog’s attention, they should assume a posture of head and eyes down, hands at sides, and quiet, like a tree. This will discourage a dog from engaging.

Most dogs truly love children, and this bond can be one of the most formative of a young person’s life. By educating and reinforcing respect for your four-legged companions, you will ensure that your child’s experience is positive, loving and safe.

Related Links:

Teaching Children How to Avoid Dog Bites

Dog Bite Prevention Week: What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

5 Responses

  1. melannie says:

    Yes Estelle, he works his socks off and I now don’t have any problems like I did have thanks.

  2. melannie2015 says:

    Hi, hope someone can help in some great detail please ??

    I have a Male Lakeland/Parsons Terrier cross, 6 months 1 week old, not neutered yet.
    I have owned the dog from 7 weeks old.

    I feel as if I am going nuts because the dog goes nuts with me and constantly barks at me and tries to nip/bite at me too, I say constantly but it just feels like that to be honest, a lot of the time he can be very calm with me but when he starts up It just feels like its forever and it drains a lot of my energy from me, sometimes its pretty sore as I have tender legs and skin etc, he seems like as if he is nuts and when he gets crazy I go crazy, I cant help it, I wish I could afford training classes or something but I cant so that’s out of the question, the barking during these periods is ear bursting too for me and gives me a sore head.

    When he gets like this with me the only thing I can do to get peace is put him out in the garden or crate (with doors closed), then I feel bad as he just sits and cries to get out the cage or back in from the garden.

    He acts nearly 90% perfect with my friend yet he isn’t the one who looks after the dog, but it just seems to like sitting/laying at his feet nice and calm, yet I am the one that walks the dog, feeds it etc etc etc and I get all the abuse off of it, it really is driving me crazy and I don’t know what to do :(

    Can someone please tell me some things I must do to at least start trying as I feel like I have tried everything but everything I am doing seems to just be wrong, I am pretty lost now.

    I have had dogs and pups before this but many many years ago (different breed) and I somehow don’t remember this type of thing with those dogs, either that or maybe I just cant remember, I don’t know.

    I would very much appreciate any help at all that people can give me here, I am desperate and I don’t want to get rid of the dog as apart from all that he is a great wee dog plus so far has cost me a fortune, lol.

    I am in the UK if that makes any difference, just thought I would say.

  3. lena says:

    what if this does not work?