Tips For Children on How To Safely Interact with Dogs!
Did you know that of the estimated 800,000 dog bites that occur each year involve children between the ages 5 and 8? TV host and dog trainer Victoria Stilwell from animal planet is offering some tips to children on what they need to know in order to interact safely with dogs!
Not every dog is your friend.
Kids often mistake wagging tails for happiness — and that isn’t always the case, Stilwell says. Help kids recognize when a dog is showing signs of aggression or fear. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.org) offers photos that illustrate canine body language and tips to avoid dog bites.
Embrace your inner tree (or rock).
Dogs lose interest when they are ignored, so Stilwell (right) tells children to become a tree, standing still and avoiding eye contact when dogs approach. If kids get knocked to the ground, advise them to roll up like a stone on the ground with knees in and hands behind their neck so they protect vital organs. Practice makes perfect.
Report loose or stray dogs.
If kids see a stray dog during walks to school, remind them to alert an adult. Stilwell says that parents should report loose dogs to animal control immediately. “There are so many irresponsible dog owners out there and these people need to be reported,” she says.
Be careful when walking on a dog’s ‘turf.’
Many owners rely on electric fences or shock collars to keep dogs confined to their own yard. But Stilwell notes that kids and other animals can easily cross those invisible boundaries — and that’s often when the trouble occurs. “Mostly children are bitten on the dog’s territory by a dog that they know,” she says. “It’s rare for a child to be bitten by a dog that comes out of nowhere and bites them.”
Never touch dogs behind a fence.
Tell kids to exercise caution and avoid taunting or exciting dogs behind fences, she says. Remember, that fence may not be too sturdy, and some determined dogs can jump over fences without any trouble.
Taunting dogs is a form of bullying.
“Being kind to animals is much more powerful than teasing, bullying, or being rough or unkind to these creatures,” she says. “How would you feel if you were teased or bullied or hit?”
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