Kids will always be fascinated with animals, and that makes them prone from being attacked if they are not careful. Even if the animals around you are mostly domesticated such as cats and dogs, this does not automatically make your children safe. In the United States alone, around 2 million dog bites occur every year.
Many homes in America are raising dogs as pets, and it is natural that you children be delighted in hugging, petting, and playing with their pets. However, many kids grow up believing that all dogs are gentle and friendly, and they become susceptible to dog attacks simply because they had never been taught when it is okay to approach a dog.
Here are some safety guidelines you can teach your kids when they are quite young in regards to dog safety, and continue to reinforce these precautions frequently.
Never go near a dog you see for the first time – If your kids sees a stranger dog for the first time, they may run towards it thinking that it would run up to them and lick their faces just like what their pet dog does. Unfortunately, as with all animals, dogs live on survival instincts. Seeing a child running towards them may be perceived by the dog as a sign of aggression and it would react by barking and even biting the kid. Under no circumstance should your child be touching any other dog, even if it is a neighbor’s pet.
If a dog chases, do not run - Your child may get so scared as a dog approaches aggressively that he may run away as fast as possible. This would only make the dog run even more. Teach your child to stand still and avoid eye contact as the dog approaches.
Never approach a dog with adult supervision – Even if the dog is your own pet, it is best for adults to supervise their young children while they attempt to play with a dog. Be reminded that there are several dog breeds that are not friendly towards children, especially those with over aggressive behavior like the Pitbull Terrier.
Let the dog familiarize you - Dogs take time to familiarize strangers, which they do by approaching the person and sniffing him. Some say your child could try holding out his hand first to allow the dog to sniff it, but others say it is better to just stand still and let the dog approach him instead.
Never go near a dog’s property – Dogs are territorial animals by nature. They will treat their masters’ domain as their own and all trespassers will be met with aggression. If you and your child enter a friend’s or neighbor’s house for the first time, the guard dogs’ first reaction is to bark towards you in order to scare you away. If the guard dog is unleashed, just slowly back off until its owner puts the dog away from visitors. This goes the same whenever a dog is dealing with its own possessions such as eating or while playing with a bone.
Never hurt the dog – The dog remembers who to trust, while those who don’t are met with aggression. If your child has hurt a dog by pulling its tail or fur, it will not take it likely.
Keep your child’s face away from the dog – You may never know when even your pet dog would just snap out of it. Always teach your child to pet the dog from the side or from behind rather than facing the dog.