For many, dogs make wonderful and loving companions. But as animals, the reality is that any dog, regardless of their size, breed or temperament, can bite if provoked.
While dog bites can happen to anyone, children are by far the most common victims. They are also at a much higher risk of being severely injured – especially on the face, head or neck.
Surprisingly, a majority of dog bites that happen to children occur while they are interacting with a familiar dog, such as the family dog or a dog around the neighborhood. But fortunately, most dog bites are also preventable. By teaching your children the appropriate way to behave around dogs, you can help them to avoid potentially serious injuries.
Recognizing risky situations
It’s essential to help your children understand when it is and isn’t okay to interact with a dog. By learning to recognize circumstances in which a dog may feel protective or anxious, you can help your kids to avoid escalating provocation.
You should first teach your children that they should always ask the dog’s owner for permission first before they try to pet a new dog. But, if the dog is in any of the following situations, they should learn not to approach at all:
- The dog is eating or sleeping
- The dog is with its puppies
- The dog is not with its owner
- The dog’s owner does not give permission to pet the dog
- The dog is playing with or guarding a toy
- The dog is on the other side of a fence
Learning the right way to interact
When your child is interacting with a dog, they should also be aware of what they can or can’t do with the dog to ensure their safety. The following tips will help your kids to have positive and successful interactions with the dogs they meet:
- Teach them to let the dog sniff them first before petting
- Teach them to pet gently and avoid direct eye contact
- Teach them to stay away from the dog’s face and tail
- Teach them to move slowly and calmly around dogs
- Teach them to back away slowly if a dog becomes aggressive
- Teach them to curl into a ball if a dog knocks them over
While you can’t always anticipate when a dog will bite, you can help your kids understand the warning signs. By teaching them when it’s safe to approach a dog and how to behave around them, you can help them avoid getting bitten in the future.