Every day, my white Siberian Husky, Lexi, loves to go outside on her rope and run around in the front yard. She’s a happy, playful, and social four-year-old dog. Her rope allows her to go about ten feet away from the road in front of my house. Last week, a man walked down the street with his seven grandchildren. Lexi ran out as far as she could to try to meet the strangers. The kids began howling because they thought she was a wolf. They started moving closer towards Lexi. I opened the screen door to call Lexi over, in case the kids got her too excited. That’s when I heard the grandfather say to the kids, “Stay on this side of the road. Don’t get too close to the dog.” The kids obeyed the simple lesson: don’t get too close.
Lexi is a friendly dog, and has never bitten anyone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a small chance she might bite someone someday. Even the sweetest, nicest, most outgoing dogs can bite. The behavior may change because the dog is scared, startled, feeling ill, or trying to protect something such as their puppies, food, or toys. Adults can recognize when playing with a dog has turned into irritating the dog. After a growl or a nip, an adult knows to pull away to avoid getting seriously injured. However, many children do not understand those warning signs. For this reason, kids are the most common victims of dog bites.
Every kid should learn the proper ways to act around a dog, whether it is their own or a stranger’s. Many kids will run up to a dog on the street and want to pet it. Kids should be taught to never get too close to a strange dog without the owner’s permission. A child is less likely to get bit if the dog is expecting to be petted, and happily welcomes the attention.
Parents, remind your children to never:
- Touch someone else’s dog without permission. If there is no owner around, then the child should not approach the dog at all.
- Yell, run, hit, or make sudden movements around a dog. Dogs are frightened by unpredictability and may bite out of fear.
- Play with a dog after it has stopped playing or has walked away.
- Pull on a dog’s ears or tail and never climb or ride a dog.
- Steal a dog’s toys, food, or treats.
- Interfere with a dog and her puppies.
- Drag around a dog by a body part or with a blanket or towel.
- Dress a dog up like a doll. Some dogs will tolerate this, but some won’t.
Parents should make sure their children are behaving appropriately around any dog. If there is a stray dog, be sure to report it to the local police or animal control. Always remind your kids not to get too close to any strange dog!