This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which aims to reduce the nearly 5 million reported dog bites that occur in the United States each year. Doggone Safe offers the following tips for parents and dog owners to help keep kids safe:
The three most important things to teach your kids
- Dogs don't like hugs and kisses—Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face. Hugging the family dog or other face-to-face contacts are common causes of bites to the face. Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.
- Be a tree if a strange dog approaches—Teach kids to stand still, like a tree. Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. This works for strange dogs, and any time the family dog gets too frisky or becomes aggressive.
- Never tease a dog—and never disturb a dog that's sleeping, eating, or protecting something.
The two most important things parents can do
- Supervise—Don't assume your dog is good with kids. If a toddler must interact with your dog, you should have your hands on the dog, too. Even if your dog is great with kids and has never bitten before, why take a chance?
- Train the dog—Take your dog to obedience classes where positive reinforcement is used. Never pin, shake, choke, hold the dog down, or roll the dog over to teach it a lesson. Dogs treated this way are likely to turn their aggression on weaker family members. Involve older children in training the family dog while supervising. Don't allow children to punish the dog and don't punish the dog yourself. Condition the dog to enjoy the presence and actions of children using positive experiences.
The three most important things dog owners can do
- Spay or neuter your dog—Neutered pets are calmer, healthier, and less likely to be aggressive. Neutering prevents unwanted dogs that may end up in shelters or in less than ideal conditions where they may grow up to be poorly socialized or aggressive.
- Condition your dog for the world—Give your puppy lots of new positive experiences. Train using positive methods like clicker training.
- Supervise your dog—Supervise your dog around children at all times. Do not allow children to hug and kiss the dog. If visiting children are bothering your dog, put the dog away or send the children home.
To learn more about what we can do as pet owners and parents to prevent dog bites, read Taking a Bite Out of Dog Bites: Talking Kids and Dogs. Also check out Doggone Crazy family board game for dog bite prevention, Kids and Dogs, and Good Dog! Kids Teaching Kids About Dog Behavior and Training, and more – on sale this week in the clickertraining store!