Published on Jul 10, 2015 by Edgar Snyder

How to Introduce Your Child to a New Dog

Teaching Your Child the Right Way to Approach a New Dog

It's amazing how well some dogs know how to behave around small children. It is almost as if they have an instinct to treat kids in a more gentle and tolerant fashion. More often than not, dogs end up putting up with a lot of unpredictable and sometimes even aggressive behavior from kids.

However, not all dogs are so tolerant. Unfortunately, we have seen firsthand the kind of devastating injuries that dog bites can cause, especially in young children. Children under the age of 12 account for more than 50% of all dog bite injuries in the U.S. When your child meets a new dog, they are even more at risk for injury because they don't always know whether the dog is dangerous. Prepare your kids to interact with new dogs with these safety tips.

Teach Your Kids the Doggie Basics

All children should be taught a few simple ground rules when it comes to dealing with dogs, especially unfamiliar ones. They include:

  • Don't tease dogs
  • Always ask for the owner's permission before petting
  • Pet the dog gently and with patience
  • Give the dog space, especially if they're eating or sleeping
  • Don't assume that all dogs are friendly and kind
  • Treat the dog with respect

Learn the Proper Pooch Greetings

Dog Bite Tips for Kids

Whether you're a child or not, it can be tempting to smoother a new dog with lots of hugs and kisses. The problem with this is that it can leave the dog feeling threatened, making them more likely to lash out. The correct way to greet a dog is very simple and can mean all the difference.

First, slowly offer your closed, downward facing fist out for the dog for him or her to sniff. By closing your palm, you or your child's fingers will be protected should the dog decide to bite. If the dog turns their head or backs away, consider it your warning to not pursue the dog any further. On the other hand, if the dog responds with a lick, then that's the go ahead to offer them a few gentle pats, but still proceed with caution.

Pay Attention to the Dog's Body Language

Dogs may not speak in words we can understand, but they have their own ways of communicating with us, mostly through body language. If interpreted correctly, a dog's body language can very easily give you clues on how the dog is feeling about a person or situation. Often times, children become overwhelmed with excitement when meeting a new dog and because of this, they may misread a dog's behavior for being friendly when in reality the dog may not be so kind.

Teach your child to look out for these body language warning signs the next time they encounter a new dog:

  • Dog is staring with a tense facial expression, looking at you out of the corners of their eyes
  • Lips are pulled back exposing teeth
  • Ears are flattened completely back, or to the side of their head
  • Tail tucked/lowered between rear legs, or held stiff and high, moving rapidly back and forth

By teaching your child to watch out for these warning signs, they will be more prepared to deal with a potentially aggressive dog.

Don't forget to check out our our Doggie Do's and Don'ts infographic made just for kids for even more tips and safety information.

Was Your Child Injured By a Dog?

No matter how cautious your child may be around a new dog, accidents still happen. Dog bites can cause children serious physical and emotional trauma. If your child has suffered from a dog bite, we can help. Contact our legal professionals today for a free case review.

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