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How do I teach my kids to be safe around dogs?

Most dogs never bite anyone, but even the friendliest pet can be aggressive if provoked. Most of the half-million people each year who suffer serious dog bites are kids, so it’s important that all children learn how to behave with dogs whether you own a pet or not. Teach your children these dog-safe rules:

  • Treat dogs with respect. Don’t approach a strange dog or pet a dog without asking permission from the dog’s owner. Never disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating or caring for puppies, and never tease, hurt or play rough with a dog. Always allow a dog to sniff you first before trying to pet it. Don’t play with any dog unless an adult is nearby.
  • Remain calm when you’re approached by a dog. Don’t scream or run away—even friendly dogs love to chase. If you feel threatened, stand still and avoid making eye contact with the dog. Slowly back away or stay still until the dog goes away. If you fall or a dog knocks you down, curl into a ball and place your hands over your face and neck.

Never leave a baby or a small child alone with an animal. Report any unlicensed or stray animals to your local authority. If a dog bites your child, consult your pediatrician, even if you know the dog.