"Always ask first if a dog is friendly."
I find myself saying this to my daughters all the time. As a dog owner, I know what great companions dogs can be. However, as a parent, I also know not all of them are as friendly, and a child's behavior can startle even the nicest of dogs.
This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. According to the CDC, more than four and a half million people are bit by a dog each year, and more than half of the victims are kids. However, The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery along with the American Academy of Pediatrics are teaming up with the U.S. Postal Service to let the public know, that while a serious health issue, dog bites are avoidable.
Here's what the ASRM and AAP suggest for safety:
*Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
*Teach your child to see if the dog is with an owner and looks friendly. Then ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. Let the dog sniff your child and have your child touch the dog gently, avoiding the face, head and tail.
*Tell your child not to bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
*Tell your child not to run past a dog
Just yesterday, on a walk with my daughters, we spotted a dog on the trail, alone, but with a collar. While I was confident he was someones pet, I didn't want to take any chances. We gave him a wide birth and slowly walked by him.
If that happens to you, or worse, you can tell the dog isn't friendly, here's what the experts say to do:
*Avoid eye contact
*Stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly
*If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands
Check out this page from the American Academy of Pediatrics for more helpful tips.