The majority of children who meet Mr. N have no idea whatsoever how to greet dogs properly. They run up to him yelling “puppy” at the top of their lungs or grab at his face or want to pick him up or hug him. All of these can be risky behaviors around dogs, especially strange ones.
Children are the most common victims of dog bites and more likely to be severely injured. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites. And at least half of them are children.
Dog safety for children is a big component of the work that Mr. N’s therapy dog group does. When we do therapy visits at domestic violence shelters and schools, we also educate children on how to greet dogs properly, dog body language and bite prevention.
|Mr. N in his therapy group uniform|
We have the kids practice dog greetings on a stuffed animal before approaching the dogs. We teach them to:
- Always ask the owner for permission.
- Approach slowly and from a side angle.
- Don’t lean/loom over the dog. The small dogs in Mr. N’s therapy group greet the children on ottomans so they are more at a level with the kids.
- Pet gently in the direction of the fur growth.
- Don’t pet dogs on the head.
- Do NOT hug the dogs. Hugging is a primate behavior, not a canine one!
77 percent of dog bites come from the family dog or a friend’s dog. Mr. N was the demo dog for a dog safety class where one of the participants was a little boy who had been bitten by a dog at a friend’s party. If he knew then what he knows now, he could have avoided that bite. If your children are aware of dog safety, it could save everyone a lot of pain and heartache!
We’re participating in a blogger collaboration for National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Check out these other blogs for our week-long series about dog (and cat) bites.
Fidose of Reality (Monday)
Random Felines (Tuesday)
Miss Molly Says (Thursday)
Savannah’s Paw Tracks (Friday)