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10 Rules Every Kid Should Know to Avoid Dog Bites

10 Rules Every Kid Should Know to Avoid Dog Bites

Dogs can be man’s best friend – and as the number two pet in America – many people obviously agree. However, Fido comes with a sharp set of canine teeth. With those teeth, nearly 5 million people a year are bitten in the United States. According to about 400,000 of these dog bite victims will be children requiring medical treatment.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says it is important to note about half of dog bites that affect children happen during everyday activities, in their own home and with familiar dogs. Among children, the rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for those ages 5 to 9 years.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, a study entitled Which Dogs Bite? A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors, found that biting dogs were more likely to be to be male, to reside in a home with one or more children, and to be un-neutered. A final factor was that biting dogs are more likely to be chained while in the yard than non-biting dogs. Some dog breeds also have higher rates of reported bitings than others, such as German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Bull Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, Doberman Pinchers, Great Danes, Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Siberian Huskies.

However, beware of breed bias. There is a growing movement to prevent breed discrimination. The American Veterinary Medical Association has wise words on this subject:

There is no such thing as a bad breed of dog.

All dogs can bite if provoked.

So instead of concentrating on the breed of dog, you should just keep your kids safe around any dog.



Fortunately, dog bites are largely preventable and every parent can help minimize their child’s risk by teaching them basic doggie etiquette – in other words, how to successfully interact (or not) with a dog.

So read this list from AVMA, share the information with your children and spread the word to other families and dog owners. A little education goes a long way in preventing dog bites.

  • Avoid dogs you don’t know. If you see an unknown dog wandering loose and unsupervised, avoid the dog.
  • Ask before petting! When the owner is with their dog, always ask the owner for permission to pet their pup. Even if it’s a dog you know, asking first can help prevent sudden movements that may startle the dog.
  • When confronted, don’t panic. If a dog confronts you, walk confidently and quietly away. If a dog goes after you, stay calm and stand still, keeping hands low and clasped in front of you. It’s important to take a defensive position, so the dog won’t think you are trying to harm him.
  • Don’t make it worse. Avoid escalating the situation by yelling, running, hitting or making sudden movements towards the dog. All of these actions will make the dog feel threatened and can make the dog more aggressive.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie. When a dog is sleeping or eating, leave the dog alone.



  • Never tease dogs. Don’t take their toys, food or treats, and never pretend to hit or kick them. This could create distrust in the dog, and make him or her more aggressive.
  • Never pull a dog’s ears or tail. Pain makes a dog feel like he is in danger and he could respond by biting.
  • Dogs aren’t toys. Never climb on or try to ride dogs. Not only could this scare or anger the dog, but it could also injure the dog if he cannot support the weight or tries to get away.
  • Playtime has a beginning and end. A dog has to want to play, but when the dog leaves that’s your cue that playtime is over. The dog will come back for more play if he feels like it.

  • Dog crates are safe spaces. Don’t bother a dog when he is in his crate. Dogs need a comfortable, safe place where the child never goes. Remember, dogs need alone time too!



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    Cherise Udell

    Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


    + add your own
    3:48PM PDT on May 21, 2015

    Hey kids, leave the dogs alone! :-P

    2:25AM PST on Jan 22, 2015

    Good information for children to learn at an early age and some older ones too need to know this

    3:40AM PST on Nov 12, 2014

    Thank you :)

    4:00PM PST on Nov 11, 2014

    Very important stuff to teach kids!

    7:05AM PST on Nov 7, 2014


    9:08PM PDT on Sep 16, 2014

    Leaving them alone while they're eating is particularly good advice.

    1:26PM PDT on Sep 14, 2014

    There seems to be the tendency to see dogs as play things (on the part of adult culture), like a doll or toy. Dogs are living beings, with feelings and wants and needs. Thanks.

    7:23AM PDT on Sep 10, 2014

    Yes, schools should host an annual dog safety assembly. Could save lives.

    4:14AM PDT on Sep 9, 2014

    This should also be taught in schools for children that are not around pets, at least they will have the skills for later life. It could be done in a fun and interactive way like 'workshops'.

    2:21AM PDT on Sep 6, 2014

    Thank you :)

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    Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
    Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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