During summer, kids and pets alike are more likely to be roaming the neighborhood, having fun, and encountering one another. By teaching children how to behave around dogs, you can help reduce the risk of a dog bite, increase your children’s chances of a positive interaction with man’s best friend – and reduce your risk of needing an experienced dog bite lawyer.
“Best Manners” For Meeting New Dogs
To help your kids meet and play safely with dogs, teach them the following steps:
- Ask the owner first. Before approaching any dog, ask its owner whether it’s okay to pet the dog. Often, the owner can tell you whether the dog is feeling friendly or frightened, even if it is not obvious to you. If there is no owner present, don’t pet the dog.
- Practice approaching slowly. Running up to a dog can make the dog feel threatened or scared, increasing the chances that it may bite to protect itself. Instead, approach the dog slowly, and stop before you are within arm’s reach to allow the dog to come to you.
- Offer a polite “hello” first. Offer the dog the back of your closed hand to sniff by extending your hand toward the dog and slightly below the dog’s face. With small dogs, sitting or kneeling can help them feel safer.
- Pet gently. Petting the chin or chest is a good place to start. If the dog appears relaxed or seems to enjoy it, try petting the neck and back in the direction of the fur. If the dog backs away, growls, or snaps, however, stop petting immediately.
- Speak gently. Loud or excessive noise can frighten or excite some dogs. Others may get angry or annoyed. Using a soft voice can help put the dog at ease.
- Don’t pull or grab a dog’s ears, tail, or feet. Also, hugging a dog, or putting your face too close to the dog’s face, can make some dogs nervous enough to bite.
- Never distract or pet working service dogs. If the dog is wearing a service vest or harness, its job is to help keep its owner safe. Distracting the dog can put its handler in danger. Tell children that if they’re not sure if a dog is working, they can ask its owner.
What to Do If You’re Attacked By a Dog
While many dogs are friendly and enjoy human attention, some dogs are not. You can help kids stay safe by teaching them what to do if an aggressive dog approaches them.
- Recognize the signs of an unfriendly dog. A constant stare, stiff body and tail, and growling are all signs that a dog is interpreting your presence as a threat.
- Think “slow and gentle.” Running away or making loud noises may prompt the dog to chase you. Instead, avoid direct eye contact, use a quiet, calm voice, and back away slowly.
- Know what to do if you’re approached or knocked down. If an unfriendly dog approaches, stay still (for children, teach them to “stand like a tree”). If you’re jumped on or knocked down by an unfriendly dog, curl up and protect your face and hands.
Supervising children when they’re in a place they might meet new dogs can help as well. You’ll be present to make sure kids approach unfamiliar dogs appropriately and that they remember what to do if a dog is unfriendly.
Choose an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer
Injured by a dog bite? Attorney Jonathan D. Schmidt can help you understand your legal rights and seek compensation. Call him today at (319) 423-3031 to schedule a consultation.