Children under the age of nine are more likely to end up in the hospital due to a dog bite than any other age group. This is partly because they are often not taught how to act appropriately around dogs, and they may simply assume that the dog will react to affectionate behavior in the same way that any human would.
This means that they may try to hug, kiss or cuddle a potentially aggressive dog, which could potentially aggravate them. While the responsibility always lies with the dog owner to prevent the dog from being aggressive, you should also consider what you can do to teach your child to be safe around dogs.
Teach them to never approach a dog when sleeping
Dogs do not react well to being woken up from sleep. If a child encounters a sleeping dog at the home of their friend or at the park, they should never try to wake them, because just like humans, they can become grumpy or even angry when woken up.
Teach them to always communicate with the dog’s owner
You should teach your child from the start that every dog has an owner (unless it is stray), and that you always need to ask an owner permission before interacting with a dog. You can practice this engagement when outside with your child. Teach them not only to ask the owner’s permission to stroke a dog but also to observe the body language of the dog to determine whether they want to be pet or not.
No kissing or hugging
Children find kissing and hugging a natural part of expressing emotion. However, they should be taught that this is not a safe way to interact with a dog. The dog may feel smothered and attacked and may react aggressively as a result.
It is important that you teach your children to interact safely with dogs so that they have a lower risk of an unsafe incident. If your child has been attacked by a dog, consider whether legal action against the owner is necessary.