I find it so heart breaking that dogs end up biting children, with the terrible consequences of being given away, sent back to the shelter, or worse, put down. The child is left with the heartache of having been bitten by their beloved pet, not to mention having a lifelong fear of dogs from that point forward. And if it’s a stranger’s dog that bites, that family is negatively affected as well. Here’s what you need to know about dog bite safety for kids.
Dog Bite Prevention for Kids
Kids need to be aware that any dog can bite if provoked. The majority of dog bites happen with a dog the child knows, either their own dog, or a neighbor or friend’s dog. We’ll talk later in this post about why dogs bite, but first let’s talk about ways to protect your children from dog bites by teaching them the right way to behave around dogs.
8 Dog Bite Safety Tips for Kids
1. Children should never approach a growling, scared or barking dog.
2. Children should not approach a dog who is eating, sleeping, chewing on a bone or toy, or caring for or nursing puppies. Dogs are more likely to bite if they are startled, or especially when caring for their puppies.
3. Children shouldn’t pet unfamiliar dogs without asking the owner’s permission first. This one really upsets me. I had a miniature dachshund named Taz for several years who was frightened by children. It always shocked me how parents would let their kids come running toward my dog and start petting her furiously. Luckily Taz never bit anyone. But honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed her! (But of course the parents would’ve blamed ME! grrrrr)
4. Children shouldn’t try to pet a dog who is in a car or behind a fence. The dog’s instinct may be to protect their territory.
5. Even when given permission by the owner to pet the dog, the child should put their hand out for the dog to sniff first. Then pet the dog on the shoulders or chest, not on top of the head.
6. Children should not go near dogs who are outside off-leash. If a loose dogs comes near the child, he shouldn’t scream or run. It’s best to avoid eye contact with the dog and stand still until the dog goes away. The child can slowly walk away after the dog has lost interest.
7. If a dog knocks a child down or if the child falls down, the child should curl up and place their hands and arms around their head to protect the neck and ears. Staying still and quiet in this position makes it likely the dog will go away.
8. A child should never try to outrun a dog. Instead, they should try throwing the dog something like their jacket, backpack, even their bicycle; something for the dog to grab onto that the child can put between themselves and the dog.
For more dog bite training tips, read my article, Dog Bite Training Tips – Education and Prevention.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), common reasons why dogs bite are:
1. They’re afraid
2. They’re startled
3. They’re protecting or guarding something or someone
4. They’re frustrated
5. They’re in pain
6. They’re playing (too rough!)
For more information about each of these reasons why dogs bite, read the AKC’s article here.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Biting a Child
According to OurPetsHealth.com, there are six ways you can prevent your dog from biting your child, or anyone’s children:
1. Socialize your dog.
2. Learn how to read dog body language. For more on this, read my article, Reading Dog Body Language.
3. Always supervise your dog when children are nearby.
4. Teach your child how to be gentle and respectful to dogs. For help on teaching your kids how to behave around dogs, read this post from Professional Dog Trainer, Doggy Dan called, How to Get the Kids Involved in Dog Training.
5. Never let children take food from a dog or interrupt its meals.
6. Provide a place where your dog can get away from children.
For more information about each of these ways to prevent your dog from biting children, read the OurPetsHealth.com article here.