Dogs make wonderful pets, they are man’s best friend and more often than not, they are a member of the family. However, they are still animals and educating your children on how to properly approach a dog could prevent bites.

Children need to understand that dogs are territorial. They want to protect their family or their owner. If they see a stranger – even if it’s a child – their instinct is to protect their owner and, unfortunately, the only way they know how is to bite.

How to avoid dog bites

Teach your child to ask your permission to pet a dog and empower them to ask the owner too. Learning how to properly approach a strange animal and how to pet an animal will help you and your family avoid injury.

  • Never leave a child alone with a dog – even the family pet.
  • Avoid dogs that are cornered, chained, in a car or behind a fence. 
  • Don’t play rough with any dog.
  • Don’t break up a dog fight.
  • Don’t surprise older dogs – deaf or blind dogs may bite.
  • Keep your face away from a dog’s head.
  • Don’t disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

Warning signs of an aggressive dog

Even well-behaved family dogs can snap. Educate your children with these warning signs:

  • Growling, snarling, or barking.
  • Crouching with the head low or the tail between the legs. 
  • Fur that’s standing up, erect ears, a stiff body and a high tail. 
  • Obvious injury or pain.

How to treat a dog bite

If your child is bitten, there is some first aid you can apply. Remember to consult your physician in case any further treatment is needed.

  • Rinse any bite with running water to clean away bacteria. 
  • Wash the wound with warm, soapy water for at least five minutes. 
  • Cover wound with a clean bandage and call your healthcare provider. 
  • Apply direct pressure and raise above heart level, if the bite is bleeding heavily. 
  • You may want to report the dog bite to the local health department and animal-control agency. Also, try to find out if the dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations.

There’s nothing wrong with petting an animal, just be cautious. Sometimes they can seem nice on the surface and still bite you, but understand they are just protecting themselves from strangers.


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