by Alexandra Allred
According to the American Humane Society, dog bites are the number one public health problem for children, outnumbering measles, mumps, and whooping cough combined. With more than 40 percent of all reported dog bites involving children, it is important to teach your children some general safety rules when it comes to dogs. While much of this was discussed in the Prevention of Bites for Joggers, it bears repeating for children.
Treat dogs with respect. Do not tease them by poking a stick through the fence or barking at them. Do not ever provoke them into growling, barking, or lunging at the fence.
Do not chase dogs or have them chase you. A game of chase can quickly turn into a hard bite to the bottom.
Avoid strange dogs -- no matter how cute they are. Never go on to someone else's property to pet their dog.
Always ask before petting a strange dog. A very cute dog sitting quietly by a tree can actually be an aggressive dog who is not properly socialized with children. Or, a dog could have an injury you don't know about. By petting him on a sore spot, he might bite out of pain. Always ask the owner to pet the dog first. If no one is around, stay away from the dog.
- Do not scream or run around dogs. High-pitched screaming or fast movements may alarm or frighten a dog, causing him to bite.
Respect a dog's privacy. Do not bother a dog when he is eating or sleeping. It is also important to remember to leave a dog alone while he is sitting behind a fence (his yard is his room) or in a car.
Do not stand and stare at a dog. Even the nicest dog might misinterpret this to be a threat and might act out.
Do not steal toys or bones from a dog. These are his things. Leave them along and respect his property, just as you teach him to respect your things.
Do not try to break up a dogfight. Leave the fight immediately and find an adult. Even your most beloved pet might accidentally bite you should you stick your hand in the middle of a fight.
- Understand the warning signs of an angry dog: Barking, growling, snarling with teeth and/or ears laid flat back are all signs of unhappiness. It is also important to know that a wagging tail can be a sign of aggression! Stiff legs, hair standing up on the back of a dog and stiff, tail wagging can be signs of a dog that might bite. Stay calm and quiet, and move away.
This article is excerpted from Alex's book, Dogs Most Wanted -- Top 10 Lists on anything and everything you ever wanted to know about your favorite pets. While there are lists on how to break your pet into showbiz, myths about your dog or dogs/cats in history, there are also tidbits on health and family issues related to pet ownership.
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, an animal trainer and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family.
Copyright © Alexandra Allred. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.