When my husband and I walk our dogs we are very aware of our
surroundings, especially if children are in the area. It never ceases to
amaze me how many kids will run up and begin to pet one of our dogs
without asking. Kiwi, our oldest dog, is very timid and does NOT like
strangers. Simply put, they make her very nervous and she tends to go
into "defend and protect mode" very quickly. I don't know if she is this
way because we didn't socialize her enough as a puppy or if it is her
breed (she is an Australian Shepherd and they tend to be protective
and nervous). In the past, I have heard children yell "The mean dog is
coming, the mean dog is coming" as we make our way to the park. Kiwi
has never bitten anyone while on one of our walks, however, she is an
example as to why people, especially children, should learn the "dos
and don'ts" when dealing with a strange dog.
1. ALWAYS ask permission before petting a strange dog. If the owner
says it is ok, approach the dog slowly and speak softly. Let the dog
sniff you before you pet him so that he/she knows you are not a threat.
2. Avoid petting a dog that is playing with a toy. Dogs are often very
protective of their toys and may think that you are trying to take it.
3. NEVER sneak up on a dog that is sleeping or eating. Dogs do not
like to be startled and many dogs will protect their food.
4. Do not approach a strange dog that is in a yard or behind a fence.
Dogs are VERY protective of their property.
5. If approached by a stray dog, stand still (no sudden movements)
and hold your hands by your sides. Never try and outrun a dog. Instead,
slowly back away.
Each year, over four million people in the United States are bitten by
dogs. Most dog bite victims are under the age of thirteen. It is a fact
that children tend to get excited around dogs. They often move quickly
and talk loudly, two things that can make a dog very uncomfortable. Kids
also like to hug dogs. While we all like a good hug on occasion, most
dogs will not be comfortable receiving a bear hug from a loud, excited
child….especially a strange child. Any of these actions could result in a
dog bite. Below are a few rules that parents should teach their children
when it comes to dealing with dogs: