“Nice dogs” and “known dogs” are statistically in the population of potential bites to humans. There is an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households. The potential for dog bites are always present and more often than not very much preventable. Education and best practices are keys to keeping people safe and dogs in their comfort zones.
Understand your dog’s body language – see it and respect it
There are many excellent info graphics available on the internet today to help present the science of dog body language in a fun and interesting way which is important when you are trying to impart these important lessons to children. Look for free downloads of educational graphics from from Dr. Sophia Yin and DoggieDrawings.net.
- A happy dog pants and wags his tail loosely. He may wag all over.
- A dog with his mouth closed and ears forward and/or with his tail held high is busy thinking about something and does not want to be bothered.
- An anxious dog might show a half moon of white in his eye (a “whale eye”) or he may lick his lips or yawn. He may turn his head away or walk away. He wants to be left alone.
- A dog that suddenly goes stiff and still is very dangerous and might be ready to bite.
If children are taught to respect all living beings and pass this experience along, the positive consequences of our effort will enrich future generations (Hessler-Keyová 2002). RISK FACTORS IN THE MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHILDREN AND DOGS, Journal of Nursing, Social Studies and Public Health, Vol. 1, No. 1–2, 2010, pp. 102–109
There are many excellent websites, videos and apps available to support parents, teachers and caregivers in their mission to educate and promote safety between children and pets. Here are just a few sources to get you started.