How to behave around animals is undoubtedly one of the most important lessons a child should learn. There is an increasing popularity of pet ownership in our society and this rise in pet companions equates to a rise in incidence of dog bites with children who have not been taught the proper way to handle a dog.
Today, many homes are not only raising children but pets as well. Naturally kids delight in hugging, petting, and playing with their animal companions. However many children consequently grow up believing that all dogs are gentle friendly and loving like their own pets. This belief can lead to a dog attack simply because those children were never instructed that it's not ok to approach all dogs.
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The points below are suggestions about how to teach your child dog safety.
- Never run up to a dog. Dogs may view this as an aggressive behavior.
- Never attempt to touch a neighbor's dog through a fence. Dogs are territorial and may feel threatened that you are approaching his area.
- As a rule young children should never approach dogs without being accompanied by an adult.
- In situations where it is permitted to interact with a dog hold your hand out first and allow your dog to sniff your hand. Dogs identify people by their scents.
- Never grab at a dog.
- Do not touch the animal's eyes.
- Do not approach a dog that is a watch dog protecting his property. He will view you as an intruder and will not want you there.
- Never attempt to pet or touch a dog that is eating in possession of a bone or guarding a treat of any kind.
- Although it should be obvious, never inflict pain on an animal by pulling its tail or hair.
- If a dog is on a leash ask the owner's permission to pet the dog first. Most times the owner will intervene and "introduce" you to the dog to make it less stressful for the dog.
- When approaching or playing with a dog keep your face away from its face. Even the gentlest dogs may accidentally bite or scratch during play.
- Do not make loud noises or sudden jerky movements when approaching a dog. The best approach is to speak softly and move slowly toward the dog.
- If a dog is chasing you do not run! Running away from the dog only encourages him to chase you.
- Avoid eye contact with an aggressive dog. If the dog shows signs of aggression (growling, showing his teeth, and hair standing up on the back of the neck) slowly back away and in a non-threatening way. As with the approach using a soft voice while backing away may help calm the dog.
Following these suggestions can help ensure that your child's interactions with dogs are pleasant and non-threatening. In the United States alone there are 4.5 million documented dog bites each year. By teaching your child these safety guidelines you can protect your child from being included in this statistic.