All kids need to know how to interact safely with dogs. Every dog is different. For instance, your family dog might love being hugged, but not every dog responds favorably to that behavior. Learn some basic rules to use with dogs you know and dogs you don’t.
What to tell children about dogs:
- Don’t go near dogs you don’t know.
- Don’t tease a dog.
- Don’t bother a dog when it is eating. Don’t put your hands in or near his food bowl. Never try to take food from a dog. Never offer your dog a bite of your sandwich or food. He could bite you when all he wants is to share your food.
- Don’t bother a dog when it is sleeping. They may think another dog is attacking them and could snap. Give them time to wake up and get oriented.
- Don’t go near a mother dog with puppies. She will try to protect them from strangers, and even a normally friendly dog could bite. Don’t try to pick up her babies unless you have an adult supervising.
- Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses. Hugging or face-to-face contact are common causes of bites to the face. Instead, scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.
- Make sure an adult is with you when you play with a dog.
- Never run up to a strange dog and try to pet them. Always ask permission of the owner first.
- When you approach a dog, Let him smell you, then pet “gently”. Don’t pull on ears or fur, but a gentle rubbing of the fur, or feeling of the ears is okay.
- If you see dogs fighting, never try to get in the middle of the fight. Go find an adult.
- Never hit a dog with toys or sticks.
What to tell children to do when a dog comes near them:
- Don’t run or scream. Dogs are excited by things that move. To stop a dog from chasing you or bothering you, the best thing to do is to stay still.
- Stand as still as you can. Pretend you are a tree with your hands up at your chest and look down at your feet.
- Don’t look directly at the dog’s eyes. They may take this as a threat.
- If you fall or get knocked down, roll yourself up into a ball with your hands over your head and stay as still as possible.
- When the dog understands you are not going to hurt him, he will probably walk away. After the dog walks away, get up quietly and slowly move away from the area.
- If a dog bites you or someone you know, tell an adult as soon as possible.
Take time to go over these rules with your children. Make sure they understand why these rules are important. When you go to dog parks or pet stores, have your child ask the pet owner if it is safe to pet their dog. The more the children practice, the better prepared they will be when faced with a strange dog.