Advice for PARENTS to TEACH YOUR CHILD Concerning Dogs
While no prevention program is 100% successful, teaching children how to safely approach or retreat from a dog, and which situations to avoid, will give them greater confidence and safety in handling encounters with dogs. It can make life more enjoyable for dogs too!
If you own any dog, but especially a dog that has had the smallest amount of aggression or protection training, it is your moral and legal obligation to make sure that you do everything possible to insure that your dog is never in a situation where it could bite a child. If you must leave the room, do not leave the child alone with the dog. Bring the child with you and cue the dog to stay behind.
Cornering, crowding or standing over a dog, particularly a small one may make it feel defensive. Children should stand back and never put their faces close to a dog’s mouth. The face is the most common site of serious dog bite injuries.
Dogs can feel left out, especially when a new baby or pet joins the household. Give a dog extra love and attention at these times but not in the proximity of children. Remember, there’s no such thing as a free reward either. Dogs should be walked regularly and respond to cues.
Even a friendly dog may bite if threatened, angry, afraid or hurt. Children must always ask permission from the owner and their parents before petting any dog.
Teach children that dogs naturally protect objects, people, and places. Treating dogs with respect is for their personal safety. Just because a dog wags its tail does not mean it’s friendly.
If a dog approaches you, remain calm and motionless. Keep your hands at your side. If the dog shows aggressive behavior, such as barking or growling, put something between you and the dog—like a chair.
Never disturb any dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
Never pet a dog, even your own, without letting him see and sniff you first.
If the owner cannot control the dog and have it sit nicely for the child to pet, WALK AWAY.
Never approach a dog that is confined behind a fence, within a car, or on a chain.
Never tease any dog by poking at them through fences or car windows or reaching your arm through to pet them.
Never run away from a dog that is chasing you. STOP, STAND STILL, REMAIN CALM, ARMS AT YOUR SIDES, BE QUIET AND DO NOT SCREAM. Walk away SLOWLY, facing the dog but not staring at its eyes. Practice this with your child.
If a dog starts to circle you – turn with it, don’t let it get behind you.
If you are attacked, STOP, CURL UP IN A BALL LIKE A TURTLE, COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR ARMS AND HANDS AND YELL FOR HELP. Practice this with your child.
Elderly dogs may have impaired vision or hearing, or more sensitive to touch which can cause them to be more easily startled.
Stay tuned for a future blog on managing infants and dogs.