Kids & Pets: Staying Safe Around Dogs

How to Stay Safe Around Dogs:

May 18-24 is was National Dog Bite Awareness Week.

4.5 million bites per year with 1 in 5 requiring medical attention. Most are children.

So, how can we stop ourselves and our children from becoming a dog bite statistic?

Most bites happen as a direct result of dogs not being well socialized or trained positively and us doing the wrong things around dogs.

Learn what the body language of fear looks like in a dog:

1. Cowering

2. Licking Lips

3. Panting

4. Yawning

5. Hypervigilence

6. Furrowed brow (1-6 caution)

7. Moving away, Stiff body, Hair standing up, Growling, Staring (DANGER)

Happy body language:

1. Tail low to medium and wagging (not stiff or "flagging")

2. Weight over all four legs

3. Body is loose/not tense

4. Ears are up but not stiff

5. "Happy" expression on face, Happy eyes, "Smiling" lips, Mouth slightly open with tongue out.

How to greet a dog you don't know.

WAGS (Wait, Ask, Gentle, Slow)

Wait for the dog to approach you. Stay sideways or at a 45 degree angle. Never turn your back on a strange dog.

Always Ask the owner if it's OK if you pet their dog. Respect their answer

Greet Gently petting on the neck and never the top of the head until you know the dog is safe.

Slow. All pets appreciate slow movement when they are getting to know you.

Don't act like a creepy stranger when greeting a pet for the first time.

Don't rush, stare, grab, invade space or loom over a dog.

Remember, dogs aren't born loving hugs or eye contact they have to learn to like these things through lots of positive contact.

What to do if a dog is running at you:

1. Be a Tree (Stand Still, Be quiet, Avoid Eye Contact)

And if the dog attacks:

2. Be a Turtle (Curl up into your shell with your hands around your neck, Call for help)

Most dogs are wonderful, loving family members if trained and treated appropriately. Remember, if your dog is acting aggressively or seems unsure around people, seek the help of a veterinarian or animal behaviorist with a background in positive reinforcement training. Always rule out physical problems first. Behavior problems don't fix themselves, they often worsen over time.

Be educated and be safe! for great behavior advice.

If you would like to contact Dr. Smith:

Richelle Smith, DVM

Safe Harbor Animal Hospital

4547 Cascade Rd. SE 49546



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