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Kids And Dog Safety
School will be out for summer in a matter of days, meaning there's going to be a lot more children out and about in your neighbourhood.
Children are the primary victims of dog bites and according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70 per cent of those kids are under the age of 15.
Not every kid grew up with a dog, and not all kids know how to be safe around strange dogs. Some children will shy away from all dogs, while others are downright fearless and will approach any dog regardless of where it came from or whether they've seen it before.
Dogs don’t bite for no reason or simply “out of the blue”, but children don't always know how their movements and behaviours are interpreted by dogs and could use some gentle coaching - and these tips can be for everyone.
Teach your children to always ask permission from the owner before they pet a dog. The dog may be perfectly friendly and love kids, or it might be easily agitated and not up for being pet that day.
Petting the right way
Some dogs, especially puppies, may be especially excitable. This doesn't mean they're aggressive or mean to hurt anyone, but they may like to jump up - especially if a child holds their hand above the dog's head as so many of them seem to do. Gently pet the dog from head to tail but don't disappear behind the dog where he can't see you. Teach your children that dogs don't really appreciate hugging the way we do - they see it as dominating and negative. Don't hold your hands above his head or bombard him with hugs.
Some children don't understand that when they run up to a dog and then run away, they're teasing the dog. The dog may think the child is playing and want to chase her, or worse - the dog's prey instincts kick in if he's not used to small children or properly socialized.
Not all dogs are well-behaved, and likewise for children. Dogs that are generally social may be tense around children or overly excitable, and not every dog has the same history. Dogs that have never bitten or acted aggressively before can surprise your child (and their own owners) if they are approached incorrectly. Some dogs are rescues, and may not have been socialized properly (or their socialization could be a work-in-progress).
A few final tips:
If an unknown, off-leash dog approaches, you should stand still while avoiding eye contact instead of running and yelling.
Never approach any animal that is eating or sleeping.
Don't leave kids unsupervised with a dog, no matter how friendly it is.
Have a safe and happy summer!