Keeping Kids Safe Around Dogs 

 Originally Written: June 9, 2009

By  Hanna Trafford

Kids and Dogs Playing Safe

With summer pretty much here, I feel that it is important to spread around a bit of caution about children and what should be their best friends – dogs. Dog attacks unfortunately happen a lot this time of year and they happen mostly in homes to children under 10 years old and in most cases involve the family pet or a pet that belongs to someone the children know.

To avoid unnecessary injuries, we need to teach children about dog behaviour. The most important thing that children have to know is to never ever run up to or away from a dog. And children should most definitely never approach a strange dog. When explaining what is important to do to your child when they are approached by a strange dog, use metaphor they can understand – like :

“Stand like a tree” or “lie like a log”

Teach your child that of an aggressive or strange dog approaches them, they need to stand still with their arms at their sides. Running can trigger and instinctive chase response in the dog and result in an attack. Waving their arms around, kicking and screaming can escalate the dog’s aggressive behaviour.

If a dog knocks down the child, he should roll onto her belly, keep face down and curl up into a ball, clasping hands behind his neck – the hand protecting face and neck.

Your child also needs to know not to stare directly into any dog’s eyes – that can be interpreted as a challenge by an aggressive dog. Teach him to talk calmly and back away very slowly.

Ultimately, of course, dog behaviour is the responsibility of the dog owner – not the children. So at your home, with your dog, that responsibility becomes yours. First – never ever leave your child or a baby alone with your dog, no matter how much you feel that the dog is well behaved and friendly.

Here are some rules to follow for the dogs your children do know and a few more for the dogs your children do not know:

The Dog They Know:

  • Never approach an eating dog or touch the dog’s dish
  • Don’t touch a dog who is sleeping or dozing – you will startle him and he will react
  • Don’t play aggressive games with a dog – like tug-of-war
  • Never pull on dogs tail or otherwise tease him
  • Don’t yell, scream or squeal at a dog
  • Don’t chase any dog into a corner
  • Remember that all dogs are different, when one will enjoy rubbing his paws, another one can react negatively
  • Watch the warning signs – if a dog growls, it means :”Back off”

The Dog They Don’t Know:

  • Never, ever approach a stray dog
  • Never rush up to a dog and try to pat him on the head
  • Never crouch or lean forward trying to put your face close to a dog’s face
  • learn to read dog’s body language, If the dog is friendly, it will be wagging his tail, his ears won’t be stiff and he may be dancing around. If the dog is not friendly, he will stand stiff-legged, with his hackles raised and ears up and rigid. The upper lip may be quivering or curled and he may be silent or growling.
  • Never pat a dog unless the owner specifically says that it is OK
  • When you have the owner’s permission, approach the dog slowly from the side. Slowly offer your hand, palms up and in a fist to allow the dog to sniff it.
  • If the dog is friendly and the owner agrees, pat the dog gently under the chin. If not, back away slowly.
  • Never scream at – or turn and run away from – an aggressive dog
  • Never, ever approach a dog who is tied up, caged,eating or playing with a toy.
  • Never feed treats to a strange dog – he may accidently bite in his excitement.

Hope this short advice post will help you – it is up to you to educate your child and potentially prevent unnecessary accident.

If you have more tips on this or any other subject, please feel free to talk to me, message me or add your comments!


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Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

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