Minimizing the Risk of Dog Bites in Children and Adults

We tend to forget that dogs do not communicate in the same way as humans. For example, humans make eye contact when  communicating and make contact through an open hand shake. Both of these behaviors may be seen as a threat to dogs. Training is the key to preventing dog bites. Dogs, children and adults need to be trained in how to approach and communicate effectively.

sleeping.gif    Teach Children NOT to Approach a Sleeping Dog

When awoken from a deep sleep, humans have been known to behave defensively, that is to strike out. Dogs when woken in fright may behave in much the same way. Dogs should not be disturbed when sleeping. If you need to wake the dog up, call them from a distance to allow them time to become oriented.

Provide the dog with a bed that is separated from noisy high activity areas. This will minimize the risk of unintentionally waking the dog in fright.

feeding.gif DO NOT to Approach a Dog That is Eating or Gnawing on a Bone

Dogs may become protective of their food or bones. They can be conditioned to accept interference with their food from the time they enter the house as a puppy. This requires the owner to teach the dog not to react if its food is removed while eating.

  • Start by putting your hand on the food bowl. If the puppy is happy and does not show signs of aggression, take the food away.
  • Reward the puppy with a pat.
  • After the puppy has sat and been given a reward, the food is returned and the puppy resumes eating.

This training should continue throughout the dog's life, especially if there is a possibility of children entering the property.

When Approaching a Dog ...

Children should be taught to leave strange dogs alone and to report stray dogs to an adult who may be able to deal with the dog appropriately.

Many behaviors humans show towards each other can be perceived as a threat to dogs. If a dog is in the company of its owner, it is essential to ask the owner's permission to approach the dog. The owner of the dog must initiate the introduction of a new person to the dog.

  • The dog should be approached on an angle, not from the front or rear.
  • Once closer to the dog, slowly extend the back of the hand and allow the dog to sniff the hand before tickling under the chin or the side of the chest.
  • Dogs should not be patted on the top of the head or the shoulders.
  • An open palm facing the dog may be seen as a threat by the dog and may cause the dog to act defensively. If the dog doesn't sniff or backs away, do not attempt to pat it.
  • Young children can be rough and unrelenting. They may be unaware that their behavior is annoying for the dog. Their high pitched squeals and uncoordinated attempts at showing affection can disturb the dog, causing it to act defensively or trigger a chasing response.
  • Discourage rough, inappropriate play, as this may over excite the dog.

boy.gif    Always Supervise Children Around Dogs

Young children should never approach a dog without the permission of the owner. Adults should initially control the child's movements when they are learning to interact with dogs. Modeling of the correct behavior is essential when young children are learning the skills of interacting with the dog. You hold and guide a young child's hand to pat the dog gently. Young children need constant supervision when in contact with dogs.

Establishing eye contact with a dog can send a strong message of domination which can be perceived as a threat to the dog. So do not look a dog directly in the eyes.

When Approached by a Strange Dog

Children are easily excited. A common reaction in their excitement is to run and squeal. This behavior can frighten a dog who may only be curious, or want to join in the fun. Never approach a strange dog without the permission of the dog owner.

Important Dog Behavior to Recognize

Dogs, as with any other animals, have a special way of communicating with each other and humans. Most people recognize the wagging tail as a sign of a happy dog, but fewer people really know or understand other signs of dog body language. A dog's body language gives us clues about how a dog may be feeling.

  •  Train children to look at the feet of a strange dog, until a relationship has been strongly established.
  •  When approached by a strange dog, children should be taught to stand like a statue with their arms by their sides.
         In all probability, the dog will sniff the child, then walk away.
  •  It is important to instill in children the importance of not making eye contact with the dog.
  •  A dog should be left alone if it:

  • lifts its lips
  •  flattens its ears against its head
  •  growls
  •  backs off
  •  raises the hair on its back.


Be Careful .. Approach with Caution ..
Every person should follow these words of advise when dealing with dogs.
By doing so, the risk of being the victim of a dog bite will lessen.

Early socialization of the dog with people, strange places, and objects should be a goal every dog owner should try to accomplish.  This early prevention method will lessen the chance the dog will bite out of fear.

Training the dog to obey basic obedience commands, such as sit, down, stay, come, and heel, will not only make your dog a more pleasant companion, but may insure him a visit to the pound because he has wandered and bitten someone.

Responsibility is paramount in the ownership of a dog.
By training your dog and socializing your dog, you show love for your dog and your fellow man.

This information was garnished from the Australian web site ...
in conjunction with

Itza Rion Kennels
© 1998 - 2004 Brenda "Rion" Sewell

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