Sarasota Veterinary Center

Make an Appointment

(941) 377-3031

Safety Tips to Avoid Dog Bites

Safety Tips to Avoid Dog Bites

National Dog Bite Prevention Week was observed in April, making this an excellent time to educate parents and children about how to be safe around dogs. But first, I will review five essential dog safety tips that apply to everyone.

Show the back of your hand before petting a dog to let them sniff your hand. Think of it as an introduction, and let the dog decide whether they want physical contact with you.

Do not leave your dog unattended. Any dog is capable of being anxious or scared and acting out defensively. The chances of this happening increase when a dog is alone and surrounded by strangers.

Do not leave a child alone with a dog. You may trust your dog to be passive, but children can easily startle a dog with a loud noise or quick movement, and due to their small size and lack of strength, a child could more easily be injured.

Do not run up to a dog. Remember that rapid movement also could easily startle or scare dogs, and always ask permission to pet someone’s dog. You do not know if they are an anxious or easily frightened dog; either way, you are a stranger to that dog.

Keep sick or injured dogs away from strangers. If your dog is ill or in pain, you should not allow them to be around other people until they are feeling better. Being in discomfort may make them act more aggressively as a means of self-protection.

Children and Dog-Bite Prevention

When teaching children about dog bite prevention, keep it simple and always supervise them around dogs to watch how they interact with animals so that they can learn to be gentle from the outset.

Here are nine quick tips to teach children:

  • Avoid unfamiliar dogs. If you see a dog you don’t know and they are wandering loose and unattended, avoid the dog and leave the area.
  • When an owner is with their dog, always ask permission to pet the dog even if it’s a dog you know, and they have been friendly before.
  • Teach children to calmly and confidently walk away if confronted by an aggressive dog. If the dog comes towards them aggressively and they cannot walk away, tell them to take a defensive position and “be a tree,” standing quietly, with their hands low and clasped in front of them, remaining still and looking down at their feet instead of making eye contact with the dog. If they are knocked down, teach them to cover their head and neck with their arms and curl into a ball.
  • Children should be taught to never escalate the situation by yelling, running, hitting, or making sudden movements toward the dog.
  • Teach children not to bother a dog if it goes to bed or into its crate. The bed or crate is the dog’s space to be left alone, and every dog needs a comfortable, safe place where the child never goes.
  • Make children aware that a dog has to want to play with them. When the dog walks away, it should be left alone until it is ready to play again.
  • Teach children never to tease a dog by taking its toys, food, or treats and never to pretend to hit or kick a dog. They should also never pull a dog’s ears or tail or climb on its back and try to ride it.
  • Sometimes, especially with smaller dogs, a child might try to drag the dog around, which is a big “no-no” as well.
  • Share these tips at a level the child can understand. Kids are not able to read a dog’s body language, so we need to focus on being gentle and helping them understand that dogs have likes and dislikes, too.

Don’t give kids too much responsibility for your dogs too early, as they may just not be ready. Remember, if you get your kids a pet, you’re getting yourself one too!