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Protect children from dog bites

May 23, 2012
Daily Press

During the third week in May, Doggone Safe Inc. and many other organizations will be calling attention to one of the nation's most commonly reported public health problems: dog bites. Half of all children will be bitten by a dog by age 12 and the majority of these bites are by the family dog or other dog known to the child.

Doggone Safe offers the following tips for parents and dog owners to help keep kids safe:

The three most important things to teach your kids:

1. Dogs don't like hugs and kisses Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face. Hugging the family dog or face-to-face contact are common causes of bites to the face. Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.

2. Be a tree if a strange dog approaches Teach kids to stand still, like a tree. Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. This works for strange dogs and anytime the family dog gets too frisky or becomes aggressive.

3. Never tease a dog and never disturb a dog that's sleeping, eating or protecting something.

The two most important things parents can do:

1. Supervise Don't assume your dog is good with kids. If a toddler must interact with your dog, you should have your hands on the dog too. Even if your dog is great with kids and has never bitten why take a chance?

2. Train the dog Take your dog to obedience classes where positive-reinforcement is used. Never pin, shake, choke, hold the dog down or roll the dog over to teach it a lesson. Dogs treated this way are likely to turn their aggression on weaker family members. Involve older children in training the family dog while supervising. Don't allow children to punish the dog. Condition the dog to enjoy the presence and actions of children using positive experiences.

The three most important things dog owners can do:

1. Spay or neuter your dog Neutered pets are calmer, healthier and less likely to be aggressive. Neutering prevents unwanted dogs that may end up in shelters or in less than ideal conditions where they may grow up to be poorly socialized or aggressive.

2. Condition your dog for the world Give your puppy lots of new positive experiences. Train using positive methods i.e. clicker training.

3. Supervise your dog Supervise your dog at all times around children. Do not allow children to hug and kiss the dog. If visiting children are bothering your dog, put the dog away or send the children home.

Doggone Safe, a non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention through education offers free information at its website to help promote safety messages during dog bite prevention week. Doggone Safe also promotes the "Doggone Safe Be a Tree" children's program.



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