Child/Dog Safety Guide


Photo by J. Nichole Smith |

Dogs make wonderful companions and need to be treated with care and respect. Most dogs are very friendly and won’t bite. However, some dogs bite because they’re fearful, angry, frustrated or are protecting something that is valuable to them. It’s vital that you recognize not just the signs that a dog is uncomfortable, but also the situations you could be in where the chance of a bite is more likely.

Dogs don’t bite without giving some kind of warning, but while some dogs might growl, tense up or bark aggressively at you, others will give warnings that are so subtle, they are easy to miss.

Here are a few guidelines you can follow when you are around dogs to keep yourself K-9 Safe and Smart!

  • Never touch a dog that is unknown to you.
  • Even if you know the dog, always ask permission from an adult you know to see if it’s ok to ask the handler if you can pet their dog.
  • Even when you have permission, try not to invade the dog’s body space. Allow the dog to come up and sniff your closed fist (palm down, knuckles facing the dog). If the dog doesn’t want to come and greet you, respect that decision and leave him alone.
  • Approaching a dog from behind or petting him directly on the top of his head can be threatening and uncomfortable for him. The dog’s back or chest is the best place to pet.
  • If a dog moves away while being stroked he’s telling you that he’s had enough, so allow him to have space and don’t follow him.
  • Never stare at a dog, kiss or put your face close to a dog’s face. Look at the dog briefly and then look away, look and look away. These are calming signals, which tell the dog you’re no threat.
  • Dogs don’t like being teased.
  • Avoid touching a dog that has been tied up or left at the end of a chain in a yard, outside a store or behind a fence
  • Tell an adult immediately if you see a dog that is loose in your neighborhood. Don’t touch it.
  • What would you feel like if a dog came up to you while you were eating and tried to take your food away?       I expect it would make you angry and you would try and prevent the dog from getting your food. Dogs are the same as humans in that they don’t like people coming up to them and touching them while they’re eating their dinner or chewing a juicy bone. Let eating dogs eat alone!
  • Dogs can startle easily if they are awoken suddenly by being touched and they sometimes react without thinking and snap when startled, so let sleeping dogs sleep!
  • Avoid taking a bone or toy away from a dog if she is playing with it.
  • If you want to sit on a sofa or chair that a dog is sitting on, try not to pull him off. Always get an adult to remove the dog for you.
  • If a dog scares you avoid screaming and running away. Put your hands together, stand still, look away and completely ignore him until he loses interest in you and goes away instead. The more boring you are, the less the dog will want to interact with you. When the dog has finished sniffing and walks away from you, walk slowly away and tell an adult.
  • If you are at someone’s house with a rambunctious dog don’t feel embarrassed about asking an adult to put the dog away in a different room if he makes you feel uncomfortable
  • If the dog tries to bite you, put a bag or coat between you and the dog and back away to a safe place.
  • In the unlikely event a dog bites and you are on the floor, roll up into a ball on your knees, with your arms clasped around the back of your neck and stay as still as you can until help arrives.
  • Remember that a dog is an animal and not a cuddly toy. Most dogs don’t like being hugged or kissed. Hugging in dog language can mean fighting and that is definitely not an expression of affection like it’s in human language. Be gentle with any dog and try not to engage in rough play.

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