Each year, more children are bitten by dogs than are injured from horseback riding, roller-blading and skateboarding combined. The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that children make up more than 60% of all dog bite victims.
Bites can be prevented if children are taught how to behave around animals, say the professional trainers at Best Friends Pet Resorts, and if dog owners take the time to properly train and socialize their pets.
Keeping kids safe
Surprisingly, children with family dogs can be at the greatest risk around strange animals. "Kids need to understand that not every dog is like their dog at home. The Golden Retriever on the street may not have the same easy going temperament as your Golden at home. Strange dogs should be approached with caution," says Joyce Clemens, dog trainer at Best Friends East Cobb, GA resort.
Trainers say it is very important that children be taught how to interpret a dog’s behaviors, such as the difference between a play bow or an aggressive stance, so that they can distinguish when a dog is a possible threat.
In addition, Best Friends trainers recommend teaching children the following dog-safe behaviors:
Basic training for dogs
Dog owners also have a responsibility when it comes to preventing dog bites, that begins with always following leash laws.
Every owner should train his or her dog to obey the basic commands of ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘no’ and ‘come.’ Basic obedience and early socialization are very important, professional trainers agree. Make sure your puppy feels at ease around children by exposing him a little at a time under controlled circumstances.
Start at a distance, watching children at the playground, for example. Over time, move closer. As your dog becomes more comfortable encourage one or two children to come over to say ‘hello.’ Be careful not to put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
If you need help training your dog or teaching your child basic dog safety, consult a professional trainer for advice. Always look for a trainer who stands behind his or her program. At Best Friends Pet Care, dog training classes come with a Results Guarantee. If you successfully complete a class and your pet needs a review or a brush-up, you can repeat the class at no additional cost.