Teaching children how to relate to animals is very important. 4.7 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs yearly. 80% of the dog bites are from dogs they know and interact with on a regular basis. Estimation is that more than half are children under the age of 13. Children are at least 3 times more likely than adults to sustain a serious dog bite.
Children get excited around dogs and they move quickly, talk loudly and try to hug the dogs. All of this needs to be avoided. Even your friendliest dog can be uncomfortable with these quick movements and loud noises.
Here are some steps to teach to children to help them be good friends with dogs.
Avoiding Dog Bites
- Always ask permission before you pet a dog.
- After being giving approval to pet the dog
- Approach the dog slowly and quietly
- Let the dog sniff you
- Pet gently on the dog’s sides or back
- Do not sneak up on a dog when he is eating or sleeping
- Do not pet a dog that is playing with a toy. Dogs are often protective of toys and may think you are trying to take it.
- Do not pet a dog that is in a car. Dogs will often protect that space.
- Do not pet a dog that is behind a fence. Once again dogs often protect their territory.
Understanding a dog’s body language can help you avoid a dog bite. If a dog is angry or fearful he is most likely to bite. Some signs to look for:
- Angry dogs might want to make themselves look bigger, ears standing up-fur on back standing on end-tail straight up (it could be wagging). Teeth could be bared, could growl and stare straight at whoever is approaching.
- Frightened dogs may shrink to the ground, put his tail between his legs and fold his ears back.
What to do when approached by an unknown dog:
- If you are walking-STOP AND STAND STILL (like a tree) with your hands at your side.
- If you are playing on the ground, LIE STILL on the ground (like a log) with your knees tucked into your stomach and your hands over your ears. If you lie still like this the dog will usually sniff you and go away.
- NEVER try to outrun a dog. Back away slowly instead.