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Helping your child learn about safety around dogs

Dogs can bring excitement and an extra measure of love to your family. Preparing your children for the addition of a new pet can help them to act responsibly around dogs and to feel confident about caring for their new family member.

Because dogs are everywhere, facilitating opportunities to learn about safety near dogs is valuable for your children even if you do not own a dog. With proper education, your children can avoid potentially dangerous encounters with stray dogs as well.

Soft touch vs. body language

Young children are not likely to understand that different types of animal body language indicate feelings of happiness or aggression. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests focusing your teaching on the importance of being gentle with dogs. Talk with your children about using a soft touch. Instruct them not to pet a dog’s face or pull on his or her tail. Teaching these concepts will make more sense than trying to tell them about what a tucked tail means.

The older your children are, you may introduce what certain types of body language mean to help your children better recognize how a dog feels. Additionally, teach your children not to tease dogs or threaten them even if they are doing so playfully.

React in an attack

Unfortunately, despite your teaching, sometimes dogs attack for seemingly no reason. It is equally as important to focus some of your instruction on how to react during a dog attack. You should teach your children that if approached by an aggressive dog they should remain quiet and calm. They should refrain from making eye contact and slowly move away from the dog. If attacked and knocked to the ground, your child should know to cover his or her head and neck to prevent serious injury.

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