Parents Should actively Supervise all Interactions Between Children and Dogs.

A child should not be left alone with a dog unless that child has demonstrated competent dog handling skills, and has a knowledge of canine communication, and the dog and child share a long-established relationship based on mutual understanding, love, and respect. 

Babies, toddlers, and young children should never be left alone with a dog – all interactions should be actively supervised. 

Parents can teach their children how to behave around dogs and recognize a bite-risk situation. If a bite occurs, the child should be reassured that she/he is not at fault. The fault lies with the owner or adult handler of the dog. If a bite occurs, the child should be seen by a doctor, no matter how minor the injury may seem. In the case of a severe attack, trauma counseling should be sought for the child. The bite should be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Read an interview with  Joan Orr on advice for parents about choosing a dog and fostering a safe bond between dog and children.

Parents should teach children the following (these apply to their own dog, other dogs that they know and strange dogs):
  1. Dogs do not like hugs and kisses. This is a major cause of facial bites to children. Read an article from a research study that supports this contention.
  2. Read another article that explains dogs and hugs
  3. Do not approach dogs that are not their own, even if the dog is on leash with its handler.
If, You, As a Parent, Decide That You Think It is Safe For Your Child To Approach a Particular Dog – Teach Your Child the ABC Approach. 

A = Ask your parent and the dog handler before you pet a dog

B = Be a tree if the dog is loose or too excited

C = Coochie coo on the side of the neck to pet the dog

  • Ensure that when a child visits a house with a dog, the dog will not be unsupervised around the children.
The Be a Tree Approach
Teach your child to “be a tree” when confronted with an unknown, overly friendly, or hostile dog.
1. Stop.
2. Fold your branches (hands) and watch your roots grow (look at feet) and count in your head until the dog goes away or help comes.

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The Be a Rock Approach

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Teach your child to “be a rock” if the dog actually jumps on them and knocks them down (curl up and protect face and neck with hands and arms).
 
  • Never stare at a dog in the eyes or put their face up to a dog’s face.
  • Never try to take something away from a dog.
  • Never go near a dog who is eating or drinking or chewing on something.
  • Never approach a dog that is on a bed or furniture.
  • Never approach a dog that is tied up or in a vehicle.
  • Never try to pet a dog through a fence or in a crate.
  • Never climb over a fence into a dog’s yard, even if the dog is usually friendly.
  • Never try to break up a dog fight or interact with play-fighting dogs.
  • Leave dogs alone that are sleeping, resting, injured, very old or with puppies.
Teach your child about canine body language
  • A safe dog is one that has a soft, relaxed, happy face and a wiggly body.
  • A dangerous dog has his mouth closed or mouth open with tight lips, ears forward, intense look, hard body.

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  • A dog about to bite may be growling, showing his teeth, raising fur along his back or holding his tail high in the air (he may even be wagging it). He may freeze and stare.
  • Teach children to play safe games such as fetch that do not involve running or rough play and to play only with their own dog.