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How to Keep Small Kids Safe Around Dogs


Generally, dogs won't bite unless they feel threatened, but young children often make rapid arm movements that can frighten a dog. This situation can be avoided by taking steps to ensure interactions between young children and dogs are positive. This guide can help you protect your children while allowing them to interact with friendly puppies and adult dogs.

Teach Children to Treat Dogs With Respect

There are a few common rules that you should teach your kids to follow in interacting with dogs. First, it's important to discourage the habit of running up to any dog they see on the street. If the dog is doing their business, walking, or undergoing training, it's not wise to approach the dog. You should also teach your kids to ask the dog's owner if it's okay to pet him. 

This leads to the second rule of dog interactions, which involves proper petting. Children should be taught to keep their faces away from the dog and to pet them lightly on the head. If the dog remains there or moves closer, this indicates the child can continue petting him. If the dog backs away or seems skittish, the petting session is over.

Learn and Teach Dog Body Language

Getting bitten is an unpleasant experience in more than one way. Apart from physical injuries, people often experience significant emotional distress, and that can lead to a fear of dogs for children who get bitten. You can avoid this by teaching your kids about dog body language

A friendly dog will have a loose tail wag that shakes the whole body. He will also be looking at your child without seeming to stare. A harsher gaze with a low tail wag or high stiff wag indicates the dog is on its guard. He may be unsure or aggressive, so it's best to keep your child away from the dog in this situation. Any growling the dog makes should be taken seriously.

Supervise or Separate

When your children are together with a dog for a longer period of time, such as when a friend brings their dog for a visit, you should never leave the animal alone with your children. Young children may pull the dog's fur, pull their ears, or step on the dog's paws, which are all actions that could cause the dog to bite. 

Unfortunately, something like this can happen rather quickly, so you should always supervise your children with the dog. If you have to step away, take your kids or the dog with you, or you can move the dog into another room.

Teach Your Dog Better Manners

You can teach your dog to interact better with your kids by showing him that he's not obligated to interact with them. If your dog approaches your kids, turns, and walks away, you can reward him with a treat. This will show him that he's free to visit with the children only when he wants the attention. 

Additionally, allowing your dog to spend more time in the presence of your children will help him get used to them. Eventually, your dog and your kids will learn the behaviors of each other and that will help them relate to one another a little better.

When you follow the tips given here, you can reduce the risks of a dog bite or other negative encounters between your children and a dog. This can help your children develop the respect and love for animals that will help them get the most out of having a pet. As they get older, they will gain a better understanding of animals, but your supervision in the meantime will promote healthier and more enjoyable interactions.

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