Contrary to what you saw in Loony Tunes, most dogs don’t actually want to take a chunk out of your mailman ass or chase a car down the street. In truth, a majority of dog bites happen because that pooch is ill, injured, threatened, or provoked. But, given that kids aren’t known for their restraint or not sticking body parts and other objects in places they don’t belong, it’s pretty easy to understand how children under 13 account for about half of all bite victims.
For some reason, dogs — especially breeds like Pitbulls and Rottweilers — often end up taking the wrap for their dumb humans. If you’re worried that that doggie in the window will jump off his perch, run outside, and try to maul your kid, both of you should understand the main reason dogs attack.
My Kibble, Not Yours
Some dog breeds are naturally more possessive than others, but an easy general rule to impart is that they should always leave an eating dog alone. (Not to mention, they should leave you alone when you’re eating.) Even if they know a dog is friendly, sticking a hand near a dog’s mouth while they’re chowing down is basically asking for it. It can get a little more complicated when it comes to play toys, but that’s where being a responsible pet owner kicks in. Good doggy training and making sure your kid knows basic commands (sit, stay … did Timmy fall down the well?) and uses them effectively is the best thing to do.
Dogs Get Scared, Too
Like your 3-year-old, not every pup loves meeting new people, and dogs get all the feels just like humans do. The simplest strategy is to never approach an unfamiliar dog. Fear bites can occur when a dog is startled at home, therefore teach children never to sneak up on a dog or bother a sleeping dog. (Again, feel free to replace the word “dog” with “dad.”)
Pups Can’t Yelp For Help
Even though your kid might have the best of intentions, trying to help an injured animal can quickly make a bad situation a whole lot worse. It might be hard for them to recognize when a dog isn’t feeling well, but you can teach them to look for strange behaviors, like hiding and extra snippyness. Awkwardly scooting their butts across the floor — that’s an injury you can relate to.
Let Mother Dogs Lie
This one’s kind of universal, but the bottom line is nothing gets between a mother and her pups. Yes, puppies are adorable and you want to squeeze them until their eyes pop out. But try to get them to understand how you would feel if a stranger ran up to them and started to give them a hug of death.
Dogs play outside, and kids play outside. That means it’s probably just a matter of time before one of them on the loose meets the other on the loose. It probably won’t be a homicidal Saint Bernard giving chase, but a dog doesn’t need to be Cujo to do damage. If a quick escape into a safe place (nearby house, store, or up a tree) isn’t available, and they can’t get someone’s help, your kid still has a couple of options. The first move is to stop running, stand tall, and face the dog. Don’t make eye contact, which can be construed as a challenge. If the dog doesn’t yield — or just starts laughing manically — the next best move is to play possum by dropping into a ball and covering their face and neck the best they can. Best case scenario is they get intimately familiar with slobber.