Safety and dogs

Although incidents of dogs killing or seriously injuring children are very rare, it's sensible to work out ways to protect your child.
Children and dogs can be a difficult mix. As well as supervising your children when they're with a dog, you should teach them to:

  • Stroke the dog gently on the head or chest without 'hugging' it around the neck.
  • Avoid staring straight into the dog's eyes because it may think this is threatening behaviour.
  • Avoid running and screaming around the dog.
  • Leave the dog alone when it's eating or sleeping.
  • Treat the dog with kindness and respect.
To minimise the risk of aggressive behaviour by your dog:
  • Do some research before you buy and find out which breeds behave best with children.
  • Buy from a reputable breeder.
  • Take your dog to a formal training class and teach it to behave well around children.
  • Make sure your dog has a 'retreat', such as a bed.
  • Avoid giving your dog toys that resemble children's clothes or playthings.
  • Don't allow your dog to play rough games with adults that wouldn't be safe with children.
New babies
If you already have a dog and are expecting your first baby, you should take precautions to make sure jealousy doesn't provoke aggression:
  • Change the dog's routine ahead of the baby's arrival so it becomes used to its new regime - it may have to cope with fewer daily walks for the first few weeks, for example.
  • Encourage the dog not to go upstairs if that's where your baby will be sleeping.
  • Test your dog's reaction if you lavish attention on a doll wrapped in a blanket.
SafeKids recommends keeping your dog away from your baby for a few hours after you first come home. After that, introduce the dog on a lead.

Outside the home
Most parents have known that nervous moment when a strange dog looms, especially if it's a big or boisterous animal.

In any situation where your children might come across a new dog, ensure they:
  • ask the owner's permission before approaching the dog.
  • allow the dog to sniff the back of their hand first.
  • avoid running or screaming if they're frightened, instead they should stand still, fold their arms and stay quiet.
  • don't stare at the dog, take its toy or bone, or put their face close to the dog's.
If your child is bitten
  • Clean the wound with running water as soon as possible for ten minutes to reduce the chance of infection.
  • Cover it with a non-stick sterile dressing.
  • Stop bleeding by pressing firmly on bite while holding it in the air, if possible. If there's a lot of bleeding or the wound is large, deep or dirty, see a doctor or nurse.
  • Animal bites abroad are potentially more serious because of the risk of rabies in some countries. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Source: BBC
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