The First Step In Bite
All children should be taught to respect other living beings,
be they animal or human. From birth, children need to learn
that some things are just not allowed, and "be gentle" should
be a common household command. Even if your household does not
contain animals, your children should still be taught the basics.
One day they will encounter an animal, whether it is somebody
else's pet in a controlled environment, or a meeting on the
street with a strange dog.
The Basics in Dog Safety:
Be Gentle This is so important, but so many
parents don't notice how rough their children are. A gentle
hand will carry them through so many different situations in
life, not just meeting animals. When your child approaches a
dog, show them how to pet "gently".Don't let them pull on ears
or fur, but a gentle rubbing of the fur, or feeling of the ears
is okay. Don't let them squeeze handfuls of fur, and make sure
they know that a tail is not a handhold. If your child has a
normally heavy hand, don't use a real dog for the first time,
use a stuffed animal. A dog might not be as patient with grabbing
hands as you would think.
The Right Approach
This is very important! From the time they first understand,
you must teach your children how to approach a dog properly!
What is the right way to approach a dog? Approach his owner
first and ask permission!
Saying "Hello" After Permission is Given Approach slowly, do
not run up to a dog, ever. Hold your hand out, palm down, and
let the dog sniff you. Let him decide how close he wants to
get. Many dogs love attention, but the first few moments of
every new meeting is critical. A correct approach will likely
have the new dog sidling in closer for hugs and kisses.
Please don't bring your children up to fear all dogs, even if
you do. A child who was taught fear will react to a strange
dog in a way that may make the situation even worse. Teach them
to respect dogs and all other animals instead. Respect their
boundaries, not run from them.
Meeting A Strange Dog With No Owners Present It is very important
to keep a cool head during these moments. Do not do what your
instincts may tell you to do. The first instinct is often "scream
and run", please do not do this. Instead, using a loud, firm
voice, tell the dog to "go home". If he doesn't leave, don't
What is he doing? Is he just watching you, curiosity in his
posture (ears perked, tail wagging, relaxed stance)? If this
is how he looks, just walk away calmly. Again, do not run.
Is he standing in a threatening manner? Ears laid back along
his head, his body tense, his tail up (may or may not be wagging
slowly, don't be fooled): this a threatening posture. Tell him
to "Go lay down" in a firm voice, do not yell, do not scream.
Any sudden move on your part may trigger an attack. Start to
walk away slowly. Do not make any sudden moves. If he starts
to advance on you, and lunges, drop into a "turtle" position,
and yell for help. Parents, if you come across your child in
this position, do whatever you have to do to get the dog away.
Never Run Away From A Dog: Running will only trigger a "prey"
response, and a dog that may have been content to sit and watch
will suddenly chase. Even a dog whose only intent is to "play"
may cause devastating results when the "prey" is caught.
Never Approach a Dog When He is Eating Parents,
this should be common sense, every child should know this, whether
you have pets in the home or not. Dog Owners, if your dog is
food protective, please take the time to train him out of it.
Parents! Never Leave Your Child With a Dog Unattended! Accidents
happen in the blink of an eye, and even the gentlest family
dog will bite if he is in pain, or if he has just "had enough".
Parents, please don't hesitate to call animal control if a loose
dog ever threatens you or your child. Loose dogs are a menace,
and irresponsible owners should be held accountable. Dog owners
that do not care where their dog goes and what he does should
not be dog owners, period.