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Mar 04

Teaching Our Children Basic Dog Safety

Kids and DogsDogs are typically peaceful creatures, unless they are taught otherwise. Most dogs don’t bite unless put in a situation that leaves them no other choice.  According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the rate of dog bite injuries is highest in children between the ages of 5 and 9 and is higher in boys than girls.

There are a number of reasons that children are bitten more often than adults. Many dogs are territorial and will protect food and possessions. They may also bite out of fear.  Many children will try taking away toys, or walk right into a dogs yard to see him.  People are unaware of the fact that dogs don’t like to be handled in a way that restricts them.  In my opinion, the biggest reason is the lack of education when it comes to approaching dogs and how and where to touch dogs.  Fast movements typically catch a dog’s eye and can bring out what is called the “prey drive”, or the instinct to chase.

The majority of dogs give warning signs before they bite.  Learning these signs can prevent many a bite.  Most dogs don’t “just bite” without telling us their intentions.  A dog may lift his lip or show his teeth.  His body may become stiff, ears back and flat against his head, or he may growl and shut his mouth in a tense manner.  These are all warning signs and ignoring them could lead to aggressive behavior.  If a dog shows any of these warning signs, he is telling you he is uncomfortable with what you or your children are doing.

Teaching our children basic dog safety can drastically reduce their chances of being bitten. Teaching them when to approach and how to approach a dog are the keys.  Here are some simple guidelines to teach our children about dog safety:

1. Never approach a strange dog

2. Always ask permission before approaching or petting someone’s dog

3. Never approach a dog from behind, let him see you coming

4. Don’t stare directly at a dog

5. Avoid moving fast.  Slow, steady movements are best

6. Do not approach a dog when he is eating or sleeping.  You may startle him

7. Do not bend over a dog; to him, this is an aggressive behavior.

8. Never allow children to hug a dog.   Most dogs do not like hugs, and those dogs that allow it are most likely just tolerating it.

As adults, it is our responsibility to keep our children safe around dogs. Never leave young children alone with a dog no matter how friendly and peaceful you believe him to be.  Supervision and observation of all interactions between children and any animal are extremely important.  Let’s keep our children safe around those companion animals they love so much by teaching them the right way to handle them.

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