Spring is in the air! That means spending more time outside, for both dogs and kids.  It's a great time to reinforce child safety around dogs. Kids and dogs can be great friends. However, children should be taught how to safely approach a dog and how to interact safely with dogs. Follow these tips to help prevent dog bites in kids.


How to prevent dog bites. #parenting #kids interact safely with dogs.  #dogbites Kids and dogs, Children and dogs
Teach Kids how to properly approach and interact with dogs

According to a study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S. and nearly 1 in 5 dog bite victims need medical attention.  

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Children are the most common victims of dog bites, with over half of dog bite victims being 14 years old or younger.  Aside from causing painful injury and being traumatic, dog bites can spread germs and cause infections, such as rabies and Tetanus. 

These statistics demonstrate the importance of teaching your child how to recognize stress in dogs and how to safely interact with a dog.  Know the signs yourself as well and always supervise interactions between your kids and dogs.



Being able to tell if a dog is stressed and may not welcome petting or other interaction can help prevent dog bites.  Here are a few signs that indicate a dog is experiencing stress:

🐶 Stiff tail or body language

🐶 A very slow wagging tail

🐶 The dog shows you the whites of their eyes (A wide-eyed "whale eye")

🐶 Licking of the lips

🐶 Yawning

🐶 Growling

🐶 Turns their back to you. Dogs often turn away from you when upset or stressed

🐶 Dog is moving away when you try to pet or hug him. He clearly doesn't want to be pet, leave him alone!

🐶 Snapping - If a dog snaps at you, immediately walk away. A snap is often the step before a dog bite.

Tips to avoid dog bites.  How to safely approach a strange dog.  Dogs, Pets, Child safety and dogs
Dogs need personal space too! Respect their boundaries


I've seen kids do some things that clearly create stress or even aggression in dogs, which could potentially lead to a dog bite.  These actions should be avoided:

👧 Don't run up to a dog, it can be scary to dogs and could be mistaken as a sign of aggression! Approach calmly and quietly and allow the dog to sniff your hand before attempting to pet him.

👦 Don't approach a dog yelling or squealing in high pitch tones, as many kids like to do.  That can be scary to a dog and could be mistaken for aggression.  Approach calmly and quietly. Allow the dog to sniff your hand before attempting to pet her.

👧 Never, ever pull a dog's tail! 

👦 Never jump on a dog's back or try to "ride" him, no matter how small the child is or how big the dog is!

👧 Don't approach a dog when he is sleeping, eating or has a chew stick or toy in his mouth.  Never try to take anything out of a dog's mouth!  Ask an adult for assistance.

👦 Never approach a strange dog without asking the owner first.  If no owner is present, stay away.

👧 Instruct children to also ask their own parent or guardian for permission before approaching a dog's owner to ask to pet their dog.  Parents or guardians should accompany kids when they approach someone's dog and supervise the entire interaction.

Follow these dog bite prevention tips whenever you encounter someone else's dog.  They can help significantly reduce the likelihood of your child being bitten by a dog.

Do you have any other Dog Bite Prevention Tips to share? Please share them in the comments, we love hearing from you!

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It's Baseball season! Take Your Dog Out To The Ballgame


Hindy Pearson said...

Great tips and something that can't be mentioned enough. I've had quite a few kids come up and ask me and I'm always so impressed when they do. The other day a little kid ran up to Jack and he barked at him. I felt bad for the kid and I apologised to the father but he was so great and said it wasn't our fault and reminded his kid to always ask before trying to pet a dog.

Impurrfectlife said...

These are great tips. Hmm if I had to add any tips I would just say kids (or anyone) should never abuse or throw things at dogs (or animals). Not only is it abuse, an animal will react to what behavior it's given. Some people can be so cruel and try to do anything to harm an animal yet expect no reaction. Great post. Will share.

LaylasWoof said...

Fantastic post as it is so important to train the parents on the do's and don'ts to prevent bites from happening as in the end the dog pays the price with his/her life. Our dog park has a kid's section so there are lots of kids going through but the parents are amazing with teaching their kids what to do so I do not know of any incident in the 6 plus years I have been going there.

Holly said...

This is sooo important!! I’ve seen some bad interactions in public when kids run up to dogs in stores or the beach. While I agree that perhaps a store isn’t a great place to bring an aggressive dog even a normally friendly dog can freak out when accosted by a loud face-level kid with no sense of personal space.

DawgBlogger said...

Majority of kids really receive no education whatsoever about how to understand and interact with dogs. Considering how many dogs share their lives with us all, that is really sad.

MattieDog said...

Wow - I had no idea that the number of dog bites was so high! Dogs give us a lot of hints to stay away, but often we see them played out in videos as funny. It's really good that you wrote about this - it's a great piece to keep in my back pocket and share with readers!

Beth said...

I think that parental awareness has increased greatly in the last 20 years. Kids always ask me if they can pet my dogs instead of just running up to them and petting the dogs. I let them pet Nelly and Sophie, but just explain that Theo is a little on the grumpy side, and people accept that. I think the most important tip is never leave dogs and kids unsupervised, until you're positive that both know how to treat each other.

Dash Kitten Crew said...

This is so helpful.

I don't have any tips, what I want to know is how to cope with the arrival of a large dog that I don't know. A big dog looks fierce and frightening no matter how 'friendly' the owner thinks it is.

Parents need to be told their children need to be careful around dogs. Kids have no sense of danger at all.

FiveSibesMom said...

Excellent post, Cathy! Just yesterday, a neighborhood boy came over when he saw my grandson and rushed up to my front door, peered in, and put his hand on my door handle to open my door while saying, "You have a dog?" I quickly replied, yes, and do not open my door! How would he even know what kind of dog - friendly or guard - was waiting in my house? And..his mother guardian was right across the street and let it happen! Today, we have to be so careful and really educate others (we sure do) about dog bites and prevention. Apparently, even at our own homes! This should be printed and given as a handout! Sharing!

M. K. Clinton said...

Excellent post! Since I am babysitting the grands, I am constantly aware of where Paisley (their Lab) is and tell the 3 year old the proper way to treat her. The 7 month old just started crawling and makes a beeline for Paisley. She is such a wonderful family dog and loves the girls but I'm still careful.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks Hindy, I think so too. It's so important to remind parents, dog owners, and kids. I love your story! What a smart Dad to realize that his child should have asked before bounding over to your dog. I get that a lot too. You have to remind kids often, in their excitement they can forget!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks Kamira. You're right, throwing things at dogs or behaving badly can cause a very negative reaction. Kids will sometimes throw things at a dog - not meaning to harm them, they just like to throw stuff! It's an important reminder.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks so much Ruth, I appreciate that! It is very important to teach kids how to approach and interact properly w/ dogs. And you're right, one wrong move on the part of the dog can cost them their life!! Even if it's just a warning snap, they could be picked up by animal control and end up being euthanized just for, in their minds, protecting themselves. It's unfair.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I agree completely Holly! Super friendly dogs can feel threatened and trapped. They will protect themselves out of fear in the only way they know how - growling, snapping, and if it continues they just might bite someone. Parents need to make sure their kids know how to approach safely (& ask first!) and interact appropriately.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It should be top of mind for every parent to teach their kids about strange dogs, and never to approach without asking first and how to behave appropriately. It is sad that some parents are just clueless.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I know, isn't that crazy!? I was shocked too - I had to check several resources to be sure it was a real number. It's so scary. Dogs definitely give cues but too many people don't know how to read them at all, that's where the trouble can start. Thank you so much for wanting to keep and share my piece - I'm so flattered!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I'm so glad you've encountered educated parents & kids. I have encountered many that are, but quite a lot that are not. I'm around kids w/ Icy a lot since she's a therapy dog. I always have to be alert and watch the kids interacting with her. There are always a couple of kids who need some guidance on how to approach & interact with her. You're right about always supervising kids and dogs at all times, that's so important!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Yes, large dogs can be frightening when you don't know them at all. If they're off leash it's much worse! It's true many kids have no sense of danger until an incident occurs with a dog, then they become fearful of dogs, which is a shame. When a large dog you don't know comes around, ask the owner to put the dog into a Sit. Ask if the dog is friendly and if & how you should pet the dog. I often stay away from off leash dogs in public places. I assume the owners are irresponsible and the dog may not be well behaved or safe to interact with - the exception is in a designated Dog Park.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks Dorothy! I'm so glad you think so. OMG, I can't believe the neighbor boy just wanted to open you door and come in knowing there were dogs inside. That can be a dangerous thing to do, dog or no dog. His parent should have taught him how inappropriate and potentially unsafe it is to open someone else's door and walk in! One day that could en badly for him.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks Melissa, I'm so glad you liked it! I'm not surprised you are so careful with the little ones around the dog(s). That's the smart thing to do. Little kids should never be left alone with dogs, an adult should always supervise.

Ruby's Rescued Life said...

SO IMPORTANT! I wish more parents would talk to their kids about safely interacting with dogs. Heck, I think it should be taught in schools, too!

Michelle & The Paw Pack said...

Great post! I don't have kids of my own to worry about, but I'm always hyper-vigilant when other people's kids interact with my dogs. It's SO important for parents to teach their children how to safely spend time with dogs, but it's just as important for dog owners to be able to read their dogs' body language and to be their voice if they are showing any signs of being uncomfortable in a situation.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

You're so right, Michelle! I cringe when kids come bounding up to my dogs and the parents don't see anything wrong with it. Dogs can be frightened of kids! We all have to be aware and vigilant to protect both kids and our dogs. Thanks for visiting the blog & for sharing your thoughts on this!

LaylasWoof said...

Great post and I wish every parent would read this and teach their children as sadly it is the dog that pays the price when an accident happens. I lectured my nephew on this a couple of months ago as he got a puppy and his daughter was crawling all over it, he is now being really careful

M Dawson said...

This is a timely spring post. People NEED to know about how to approach dogs.

To be honest it is the responsibility of the parent NOT the dog owner. Children these days are often uncontrolled and a danger to themselves and dogs. Parents are responsible THEY need to be aware! I sympathise with anyone with a dog who has children come shrieking up wanting to pet it.

M Dawson said...

This is a timely spring post. People NEED to know about how to approach dogs.

To be honest it is the responsibility of the parent NOT the dog owner.

Children these days are often uncontrolled and a danger to themselves and dogs. Parents are responsible THEY need to be aware! I sympathise with anyone with a dog who has children come shrieking up wanting to pet it.

Our local cat cafe does not allow under 7's for this reason, they are not conscious of any danger to themselves or pets.

Unknown said...

So important to teach pet boundaries to kids. And for parents to step in. The weirdest experience we had was a toddler coming up and sticking his nose in my dog's butt. His parents just laughed and said that their child knew how dogs say hi. I had to explain that it was ok or safe. If it had been on of my other dogs, they wouldn't have handled it well.

PreciousPawsTn said...

Great tips. I always get down to the dogs level, let them come to me and always let them sniff me first. Some of the sweetest most gentle dogs can get easily startled and react with a bite.

Britt K said...

YES! Thank you for sharing this. I'm always surprised by the number of parents that don't take the time to teach their children how to be safe around dogs. Even if you don't have a dog at home to consider, they are a popular enough pet that your child is more than likely going to encounter one somewhere - friend/family homes, at the park, walking down the street, etc. Too often, the dogs are blamed for biting incidents, however, they try to give us notice that they aren't comfortable long before anything dangerous ever happens. We just have to learn how to spot it and react accordingly.

Beth said...

My dog, Theo, had a strange reaction to my granddaughter today. (He has seen her a few times, and always liked her, including at the beginning of the visit when we were holding her.) After she had been here for a while today, he saw her crawling. He started barking at her and seemed agitated - the way he reacts when he sees an unfamiliar dog on a walk. We quickly separated them, but it was surprising to see him react to her mode of movement. (He did not react when she was standing and walking around the coffee table.) This is obviously something we'll need to monitor and make sure he does not hurt her in the future. (The baby did nothing to him, she was across the room, I think he was just freaked out that she was crawling.) The other two dogs were fine.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

So true! Dogs are always blamed for bites and the consequences to the dog can be severe. It's important to "read" your dog's body cues and behavior, and it's vital for parents to teach kids how to approach and interact appropriately with a dog.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

I'm so glad you were intuitive and quick enough to remove her from the situation. A person crawling on the floor can definitely be intimidating to a dog! I've seen that several times before - I think it is seen as a predatory behavior, like stalking or staring. Thank you for sharing this, it may help others realize that innocent, playful behavior like crawling could be interpreted negatively by some dogs. My dog Phoebe had that same reaction the day she met my husband - he got on the floor and crawled towards her and Yikes! She freaked out - so weird.

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