The likelihood of your child receiving a bite from a dog is much higher than it is for you. This is true for a number of reasons. Children are more likely to misinterpret signs of a dog’s aggression as friendly overtures. They may panic in the face of an imminent threat, which may trigger a dog’s defensive or predatory instincts.
While strange dogs may pose a threat, statistics show that most bites come from an animal the victim is familiar with. You can help prevent your kids from sustaining a bite by teaching them etiquette for interacting with dogs.
How to play
If you have a dog in your home, you must never roughhouse with it or allow your children to play with the dog too aggressively. Some dogs do not understand you are playing and become scared, while others can become overexcited and carry the game too far. Never allow young children to play unsupervised with a dog, whether it is your own or someone else’s.
When to keep your distance
Some dogs are resource guarders, meaning that they are willing to fight to defend anything that they value highly. Tell your children to leave dogs alone when they are sleeping, eating or caring for puppies. Teach your children to recognize signs of anger or fear in a dog. Explain how these are different from friendly behaviors.
How to greet a new dog
Teach your kids to let a dog make the first move rather than approaching it on sight. Dogs gather information about new situations through smell, so tell your children to stay still and allow the dog to sniff. If the dog has had the opportunity to smell and seems comfortable and relaxed, then it should be safe to pet it.