Maybe you love them and want to pet every one you see. Or maybe you're afraid of
them and want to move to a dog-free neighborhood. Either way, dogs are a part of life.
Millions of people have dogs as pets. You'll see them all over town, in the city,
country, and even when you're on vacation. They come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities
— a lot like kids!
Like many kinds of pets — no matter how small or cute they are — dogs
need to be respected as animals that, under certain conditions, could hurt you. You
can respect a dog by giving it space and following certain rules. These rules not
only keep the dog happier, they can protect you from getting bitten.
Nearly 5 million dog bites happen every year in the United States. Of those, close
to a million require medical treatment, like a trip to the doctor
or emergency department.
No one wants a dog bite, so how do you prevent one?
Use Your Dog Manners
When we say to use your "dog manners," we don't mean
you should eat off the floor or pee in the yard! We mean you should follow certain
rules when you meet or spend time with dogs — especially ones you don't know.
If you meet someone new, maybe your mom or dad showed you how to shake hands and
say, "Nice to meet you." Well, you can also have some equally good dog manners. That
means taking certain steps every time you meet a dog or spend time with one. Dogs
will love that you're so polite and, best of all, they will be less likely to bite
Where do you go to learn dog manners? You've come to the right place!
Learning DOG SAFE
One dog expert has come up with an easy way for kids to remember seven tips to
prevent dog bites. It spells "DOG SAFE."
D: Don't Tease, Please O: Only Pet With
Permission G: Give Space
S: Slow Down A: Always Get Help F:
Fingers Together E: Even Good Dogs Can Bite
Let's talk a little bit about each one of these.
Don't Tease, Please: Teasing a dog can make it angry or frustrated
enough to bite. For instance, if a dog has food or a toy, never try
to take it away. You wouldn't like it if someone grabbed your snack while you were
Only Pet With Permission: Never pet a dog without asking the owner
if it's OK. Some dogs don't like to be touched by strangers. And don't try to pet
a stray dog.
Give Space: Little kids especially might run right up to a cute
dog and try to pet it or give it a hug. But dogs need space. Crowding a dog can frighten
or anger the dog.
Slow Down: Some dogs like to chase and bite. Of course, you don't
want to be chased or bitten! The way to avoid it is to go slow around dogs. Never
run toward them or away from them. If a dog you don't know runs toward you, freeze.
If you need to get away, back up slowly.
Always Get Help: It can be tempting to bring home a dog that seems
lost or injured. But animals who are lost or injured may be very frightened or in
pain. Find a grown-up instead who can decide how to care for the animal.
Fingers Together: When feeding a dog a treat, put the treat in
the palm of your hand and keep your fingers and thumb close together. Why? The dog
is less likely to get confused about which is the treat — the doggie snack or
Even Good Dogs Can Bite: Some people are very surprised when their
dog bites someone, but all dogs can bite. Avoid doing things that make dogs scared
or angry, such as backing them into a corner or bothering them when they are sleeping.
Also learn the warning signs that a dog may bite, such as growling, backing up, or
curling its lip.
Get a Grown-up to Watch You
But the most important advice of all starts with "G." That's "G" for "Get a grown-up
to watch you." Even though many dogs love kids, it's safest for everyone when an adult
is watching over the kid and the dog. The grown-up can help control the dog or maybe
decide that the dog has had enough play time with the kids and it's time for them
Grown-ups also can remind you to use your dog manners. And grown-ups can help you
know how your dog manners might change a little bit, depending on how well you know
the animal. For instance, you might play a friendly game of chase with your new puppy.
But you wouldn't want to chase — or run away from — a strange, growling
Speaking of strange dogs, here's another reason to turn to a grown-up. If an unfamiliar
dog wanders into your neighborhood, the grown-up can decide what to do next. Maybe
you will need to come inside until help arrives or the dog is taken back to its owner.
When kids use their dog manners (and grown-ups keep an eye on kids and dogs), the
day can end just the way it should — with happy kids, happy dogs, and no dog