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How to keep your kids safe around dogs

By John Singleton on December 15, 2021

A dog can be a great addition to your family, offering a special type of companionship, especially for children. I speak from personal experience! Helping care for a dog can also teach your kids about responsibility. But a dog is not a toy. And no matter how gentle the dog may seem, leaving small children unattended with one is never a good idea.

Before bringing a dog into your home, I recommend sitting down with your kids and having a talk about safe and appropriate ways to treat animals.

And even if you don’t decide to get a dog of your own, sooner or later, your kids will encounter one. So, it’s still good to establish guidelines with your kids about what they should do when they’re around animals.

What to tell your kids before getting a dog

Children are naturally drawn to dogs, but we have to remind them not to treat a dog like a human friend. Kids often want to hug dogs tightly or play roughly with them, and not all dogs understand or respond well to this behavior.

  1. The most important thing to remind your children is to be gentle.
  2. Teach your kids to pet a dog softly, moving in the direction of the fur. A dog’s back is the safest place to pet him.
  3. Avoid bringing hands in front of a dog’s face.
  4. Never pull a dog’s feet, ears, or tail.
  5. Don’t put your face near a dog’s face.
  6. Don’t make loud noises, such as yelling or screaming, around dogs.
  7. Don’t disturb dogs when they are sleeping, eating, or drinking.
  8. Don’t attempt to pull a toy away from a dog.
  9. Don’t get too close to a dog when it’s barking or excited.

What to tell kids about approaching a strange dog

  1. The main thing to tell your children is never approach an unattended dog.
  2. Teach children to ignore stray dogs and walk away slowly. It’s not a good idea to run away because that can arouse a dog’s predatory instincts.
  3. If a strange dog approaches your child, your child should avoid eye contact and not make any sudden motions that could make the dog feel threatened.
  4. Teach your kids to never touch a strange dog without your permission, even if the owner is present. Once a child has your permission to meet a new dog, your child should proceed with caution.
  5. Always be sensitive to a dog’s body language. If the dog seems shy or skittish, leave it alone. An animal may get aggressive any time it feels threatened.
  6. Approach a dog slowly. Extend your arm with your fingers closed. Sticking out or wiggling fingers is an invitation for a bite. Give the dog a chance to sniff you and become familiar with you, and then you can slowly attempt to pet it.

What to do if a dog bites your child in Virginia

Seek medical attention right away if a dog bites your child.  Make sure your health care provider or you report the dog bite to animal control, so the dog can be checked for rabies vaccinations or quarantined if necessary.

For more help, talk to an experienced Virginia dog bite attorney.  At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we know it’s traumatic when your child is harmed by a dog. That’s why we will handle your case with empathy, care, and excellence.  You will always be treated like our neighbor, never a number.

If we take your case, we will seek to get you compensated for the full costs of your child’s injuries, including emotional trauma. Call (804) 413-6777 or toll-free (855) 781-6777 today to learn more about your options.

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