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Teach Kids to Avoid Dog Bites

Learn to Love Dogs Without Being Eaten by One


Updated January 27, 2012

Scared dog

Scared dogs keep their ears and tails down

Photo by Bev Sykes
Kids love dogs. Sometimes they can be a little too enthusiastic around dogs they don't know, however, which can lead to someone getting bit. The Humane Society has some good advice for protecting kids from dog bites. The best thing for kids to learn around dogs is restraint. They shouldn't be too loud or move too quickly.
  • Always ask permission before petting a dog. If someone is walking a dog and you want to pet it. First, ask mom or dad. Then, ask permission from the dog's owner. If the owner says yes, hold a hand out to the pooch palm down and let her sniff you before you touch her. After she's sniffed you, you can pet her back or sides softly.
  • Don't surprise a dog. If you sneak up or startle a dog, he might bite you.
  • Dogs protect their stuff. If a dog is playing with a toy, leave her alone. She might bite you if you try to play with her or take it away.
  • Dogs protect their space. Never try to pet a dog in a car, that's his house and he probably won't like you coming around.
  • Stay away from dogs behind fences for the same reason. They don't like strangers coming around.

Learn to Speak Dog

Teach kids how to read a pooch's mood. Dogs can't talk, but their body language tells a lot about what they're thinking. If they had sleeves, they'd wear their hearts on them.

Angry dogs and scared dogs bite more often. Stay away when mutts are in a bad mood or are scared of you.

  • When a dog is angry and wants to look like the big dog on campus, he'll poof up his hair and lift up his ears. His tail will be up and might even be wagging. He might bare his teeth and growl (those are big giveaways that he doesn't like you) and he might stare straight into the eyes of whoever's coming toward him.
  • If he's scared, he'll shrink down and put his tail between his legs. He'll also fold his ears back. Basically, a scared dog acts exactly the opposite of an angry dog.

Avoid Strays or Be the Tree

Kids need to know what to do with stray dogs they come across. Kids should always avoid strays and not make eye contact with them.
  • If a stray approaches a standing or walking kid, the child should stand tall like a tree with her hands at her sides.
  • If a stray approaches a child sitting or playing on the ground, he should lay on his side with his knees drawn up to his chest and his hands covering his ears. Tell him to lie still and act like a rock.
  • Never run from a dog, his instint is to chase you.


"Teaching Your Child to Avoid Dog Bites." Humane Society of the United States. Humane Society. 28 Mar 2009

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