Dogs can be a wonderful part of our family. But did you know that 50 percent of all children in the United States will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday?

The vast majority of dog bites are from a dog known to the child—his or her own pet, a neighbors or a friend’s. The good news is that most bites can be prevented.

“Even very young children can learn how to respect a dog’s space and approach them safely,” says Michelle Ramos, director of Education for the Arizona Animal Welfare League and Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (AAWL & SPCA), the state’s oldest and largest no-kill animal shelter.

“When a child is very outgoing, they forget that the animal may not want to be approached at certain times, and that it may react because it’s startled or protecting its food. The good news is, kids can learn the right way to interact with animals.”

A few important things to teach kids about interacting with animals include:
• Always supervise children around animals, even the family pet.
• Never surprise a dog who is eating or sleeping.
• Never take a toy away from a dog.
• Don’t allow children to approach or hug any dog that does not belong to them, unless they ask the dog’s owner for permission. Approach slowly and quietly.
• Never approach a dog who is in a car. Dogs will often protect their space.
• Never approach or reach for a dog who is behind a fence. Most dogs naturally protect their home or property.
• Teach children to stand still like a tree if an unfamiliar dog approaches and they are frightened. Stand very still with hands at their side. Be very quiet and do not look the dog in the eyes.
• If a child is knocked down by a threatening dog teach them to be a turtle! Curl up in ball on your side and put your fists over your ears. Stay very still and quiet until the dog goes away.
• Never, ever try to outrun a dog! Back away slowly.
• If you have a dog, train it to enjoy the presence of children using positive methods and never allow rough play or chasing games between child and dog.


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