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Children with Family Dogs Need Pet Safety Instruction

A dog can be a child’s best friend. But, for children comfortable with a family dog, strange dogs can also pose a serious safety threat.

Each year, more children are bitten by dogs than are injured from horseback riding, roller-blading and skateboarding combined. And, surprisingly, children with family dogs are often at the greatest risk, because they assume that every dog will behave like the one at home.

Unfortunately, the dog down the street may not have the same temperament as the family pet, so it’s important that every child be taught how to behave around animals.

The professional trainers at Best Friends Pet Care say that children should learn how to interpret a dog’s behaviors and to know the difference between a play bow and an aggressive stance, between a friendly bark and dangerous growl. They recommend that every child understand the following dog-safety rules:

  • Never pet a dog you don’t know without asking the owner.
  • If the dog’s owner gives permission, close your hand into a fist and let the dog sniff the back of your hand. If the dog is at ease, it’s okay to pet it gently, under the chin or on his chest. Don’t pat a dog on the head.
  • Never stare into the eyes of a dog you don’t know. Dogs think it is a sign of aggression.
  • Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Never approach a dog from the rear and grab him. He may perceive this as an act of dominance, or you may startle him into a defensive response.
  • If a strange dog approaches, stand still, with your hands at your side. Try to relax and let him sniff you. Don’t run. Dogs love to chase and may become excited and lunge.
  • If a dog knocks you to the ground, roll into a ball and remain still. Don’t scream. Cover your head and ears with your arms and legs. In most cases, the dog will go away once it determines you are not a threat.

Dog owners also have a responsibility when it comes to preventing dog bites. Trainers says every dog needs to be taught basic obedience commands, including ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘no’ and ‘come.’

For information on dog training, contact the Best Friends location near you