Keeping Kids Safe Around Dogs

Dogs are known around the world as faithful companions, and man’s best friend. However, sometimes that friendship goes awry. According to the CDC, 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. every year.

Though bites can happen to anyone, and can come from any dog, there are several ways humans can prevent injuries from dog bites. Kids are especially prone to bites, but teaching proper etiquette around dogs is the best way to respect animals and keep kids (and adults) safe. Use this guide to teach kids good behavior around puppies and dogs:

  1. Teach Kids Dog Body Language
    Often, people can recognize an unfriendly or upset dog by the way the animal behaves. Teach kids that sometimes, dogs get scared and don’t want to be pet. Kids and adults should avoid petting a dog that displays signs of fear, aggression, or defensiveness, including:

    • Tensed muscles
    • Stiff and bristled tail
    • Flattened ears
    • Intense stare
    • Bared teeth
    • Furrowed brow
    • Growling
    If a child sees these behaviors, teach them to remain calm, avoid direct eye contact, and back away slowly to prevent a bite.

  2. Establish “No-Touch” Times
    In addition to knowing a dog’s body language, kids should also learn to respect a dog’s personal space during vulnerable times and activities. Teach a child to never touch a dog that doesn’t know she is there. “No Touch” times also include when a dog is eating, sleeping, and caring for young; during these times, dogs are more likely to be caught off guard and instinctively ready to defend themselves and their puppies. Also remind kids that even if it is a good time to pet a dog, they should always be gentle and calm when hanging out with furry friends.

  3. Teach Kids to Avoid Strange Dogs
    Just as you would teach your children to be careful around unfamiliar humans, you should also teach them to be on guard around unfamiliar dogs. Instruct children to keep distance and ask before approaching a stranger’s dog, and remind them to stay calm so the dog doesn’t feel nervous. Kids should also know to tell an adult right away if they see a loose dog without an owner in public, or if they notice a dog acting erratically.

Establishing good behavior around animals can help keep both kids and dogs unafraid, happy, and safe from harm. Use these tips to keep kids on friendly terms with man’s four-legged best friend.

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