Our safety expert, Ally Cohen, offers some guidelines:
- Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party.
- Never leave your child unsupervised with a dog, even the family pet. Most dog attacks happen at home to the under-7s.
- Dogs don't like being patted on the head or having their tails pulled, so teach your child to stroke dogs gently and from the side.
- Never disturb a dog who is eating or sleeping.
- If a dog hides under a table or bush, do not allow your child to follow. The dog is probably feeling threatened and seeking a refuge.
- If a dog threatens you: cross your arms over your chest, look down and stand still. If the dog persists, slowly curl up on the floor, protect your head and stay still. Never run. Avoid eye contact, which dogs may see as confrontational.
- If the dog is interested in your child's toy or lunch, throw it on the ground for him.
- In the unlikely event that your child is attacked, try to distract the dog (ideally by throwing water at it).