Dog Safety Tips For Parents
Safety starts at home. Kids and dogs can co-exist beautifully together if kids can remember some rules to help protect them. Parents should practice these exercise at home with children just like we practice “Stop, Drop and Roll” for fires and “Never talk to strangers”.
NEVER approach a dog without permission from the dog’s owner. This applies to all dogs, no matter if they are leashed, unleashed, behind fences, tied/chained up or in a car. If there is no owner to ask if the child can pet the dog then the child should definitely not pet the dog!
ALWAYS let the dog approach the child. If the dog doesn’t approach then the dog does not want to interact. Forcing an interaction can lead to a defensive bite. Accepting this and respecting the dog’s space will protect the child from a bite. This goes for strange dogs as well as dogs the child knows. Most bites are inflicted from dogs the child knows.
If a child sees a loose dog outdoors, they need learn to alert an adult right away.
Contact the police and animal control immediately. Dogs need to be under control at all times by law.
If a child is approached by a loose dog, they need to stand perfectly still, fold their arms across their chest and look at the sky, learning to “Be A Tree”. The dog will be more likely to sniff them and go away if they are “boring”. If the child is running, squealing, staring at the dog or reaching out to pet it, they are more likely to be bitten. If a dog should approach a child on a bicycle, the child should get off and keep the bike between them and the dog at all times. If a dog approaches the child on foot, the child should keep any thing they can between them and the dog like a back pack, their jacket wadded up or a doll. If the dog bites at them they should “feed” the dog their item and not make a sound. They should never try to hit the dog or run away.
If a child is knocked down by a dog, they should curl into a ball keeping their arms over their head and neck. This is "Be a Rock".
Children should NEVER play chase games with dogs. Even though it is fun for the child, running is over stimulating for most dogs and can send dogs into predatory instincts. If the dog is being chased, it is trying to get away from the child. The dog is trying to say “Leave me alone, I do not want to play with you, I am afraid”.
Dogs do not like to be hugged! Even though this is instinct for people to show affection, it is a very rude and invasive thing for most dogs causing them to feel trapped. A dog’s only way to protect itself is to growl or bite.
“Let sleeping dogs lie”. Children should NEVER try to make a dog move off of a sleeping space, this can be taken as a threat. Dogs should have a “safe haven” all their own where the children are not allowed to go or disturb the dog. For many dogs this can be a crate and many dogs will retreat there when they need a break. If a child wakes a dog suddenly it can startle the dog and cause a bite.
Leave dogs alone when they are eating, playing with a toy. Children can relate to stories about not wanting to share a favorite toy or ice cream cone.
If a dog takes an object from a child, the child should relinquish the item and get an adult for help. No item is worth risking a bite over. Trying to “protect” the item from the dog can look like a game to the dog and encourage the dog to wrestle to get it.
Trying to pull an item back from the dog looks like a game of Tug-o-War.
Adults need to model good behavior for children to learn by example. If adults play rough games, treat dogs roughly or do not follow the above rules, it is highly unlikely children will do so. Make sure to reward your child for making “safe choices”!