Child Safety Around Dogs, Tips for Parents

An estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S., and children are some of the most common victims, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Children between the ages of five and nine are most at risk, and the injuries that children sustain from dog attacks are usually more serious than those that adults sustain and they more frequently require medical attention, the CDC explains.

Tips to Keep Your Children Safe around Dogs

Kids seem to flock to dogs whenever they’re around, mesmerized by their cuteness and totally oblivious to the dangers of approaching a dog suddenly. As a parent, you’ll want to teach your child how to behave around dogs so that they don’t endanger themselves. This goes for not only when your child is around other people’s dogs or stray dogs, but also for family pets who can still pose a threat.

Here are some simple tips to help prevent your child from being bitten by a dog.

  • Teach your child that dogs do not like face-to-face contact. Hugging and kissing a dog on the face or top of the head can often cause a dog to feel threatened, react, and bite. Explain that dogs prefer you to pet them on the back or chest.
  • Before allowing your child to approach a dog, ask the owner if it is alright. Then allow the dog to approach your child, not vice versa.
  • Always supervise your children when they’re around dogs, particularly for younger children who are not aware of how to pick up on a dog’s body language.
  • Teach your child that teasing a dog (pulling their tail, squeezing them, etc.), running around near them, and being overly rambunctious around them is not allowed.
  • Don’t allow your child to disturb a dog that’s sleeping, sick, eating, or caring for her puppies.
  • Before allowing your child to stay at someone’s house where there’s a dog present, ask the adults and ensure that your child will not be around the dog unsupervised.
  • What to do if you are attacked by a dog: teach your child how to “stand like a tree” if a strange dog approaches. Many dogs will lose interest and go away.
  • Enroll your family dog in obedience classes where the trainers use positive reinforcement.
  • Make use of all the freely available dog safety resources for children. The nonprofit organization Doggone Safe might be a good place to start. They have an excellent list of free resources parents can use for kids, including pamphlets, videos, board games, postcards, tips, coloring pages, and game cards.

For more helpful articles about dog safety of interest to parents, visit the regularly updated dog bites blog at Cordisco & Saile LLC.