How to train kids - or adults - dog preperedness

2013-09-03 10:39

A couple of times in a year you hear in the news about how a dog viciously attacked a child or how some unsuspecting kid was bitten by a dangerous dog. In fact there was a report just yesterday about a man supposedly mauled by Bull Terriers. although this article is directed at children, adults could very well take note...  

I was one of the kids who was bitten by a dog. I knew very well how to act around dogs though. I mean it; at home I had two Doberman's and a Rottweiler. In fact if I had to pin point a reason for my bite, it would be a useless owner. Even then, I used to get very irritated when people brought their children along for visits and they had no clue as to how to act around a dog, let alone a BIG dog. I still wonder about those peoples parenting skills as a whole, and yes my children know very well not to torment any animals. To me its cruelty and any such child will be banished from my household.

Now that you know how I feel about untrained children here are some interesting pointers about socialising kids with dogs and vice versa.

Always remember that all dogs are potential biters if you behave incorrectly around them so children who learn to treat all dogs with care, consideration, and respect and who learn how to steer clear of potentially dangerous situations will be safer around dogs.

Most dog bites are from dogs that the child is acquainted with, it can be a dog in their own house or a house of someone they know like a neighbours or friend’s dog. Teasing or unintentional provocation, such as approaching a dog when it is sleeping or eating, can lead to a dog bite or worse a full attack.

For training kids:



Dogs don’t like to be hugged around the neck and kissed; it is not how they greet each other. Your own family pet dog probably won’t enjoy this from the children it lives with and certainly not from visiting children. Teach children it’s gross to let dogs lick their face because dogs have bad breath; they smell other dogs’ bottoms. Face-to-face contact is a common cause of bites to the face.


Teach children that when a dog is bothering them they need to drop any food or toys they are holding and ‘be a statue’ (or a tree). *Stand still and straight, with feet together, your fists held under your chin and elbows close against your chest. If you are holding food or a toy drop it on the ground.*

The reason for dropping toys or food is simple, the dog in question may be enticed to jump for the object. Toys and food can be replaced. It’s no big deal if the dog gets them. If you don’t want the toys damaged you should teach your child to have responsibility with those items.

Statues are boring for dogs – they will usually come and sniff, and then go away. You will see dogs sniff each other when they meet; dogs sniff things to find out who or what they are.

You can practise this in advance so children know exactly what they need to do when a dog rushes at them.

You really should have a conversation with your children and mention these things:

Don’t scream and don’t run away. You might be feeling very scared but you have to be brave and STAND STILL – let the dog come and sniff you, usually it will sniff you and go away.

Don’t stare into the dog’s eyes. Look at the dog’s paws, chest or over the top of its head.

If the dog moves, turn slowly so that you can always see where it is. Never let the dog walk around behind you.

If the dog does attack, protect yourself by putting something between you and the dog. This could be your jacket or jersey, lunch box, backpack, book, bicycle or anything you can put in between you and the dog.

Stay like a statue until the dog leaves or an adult comes to help you. Slowly move backwards while still facing the dog; remember not to stare into its eyes.

Never turn and run!


If you fall or are knocked to the ground ‘be a stone’. Curl into a ball, face down, with your hands over your head and neck. Protect your face. Try to stay still – do not scream or roll around.

Stay like a stone until the dog leaves or an adult comes to help you. When you do move, you must move slowly. Slowly move backwards while still facing the dog. Remember not to stare into its eyes.

Never turn and run!


Teach children not to run around, shout, ride their bike or skate close to a dog. Some dogs could feel scared because they are not used to children doing these things, other dogs may chase and even bite. My Doberman hated a teenager on a scrambler, who would launch the pavement and torment her with the noise. Lucky for him she was well trained and didn’t run after him the day our gate was open….

Very lucky for him indeed…

Now if I was her…

Children play fighting can be a potentially dangerous situation. Family pet dogs have been known to bite visiting children when they’ve thought the children they live with are getting hurt.


Teach children that dogs may bite people who annoy them. Dogs are not toys and children should never pull their ears, tail or fur. Teach children it’s not safe to pull a toy, a stick or any item from the dog’s mouth. There is no need for children to piggy-back on dogs, they could hurt them. Explain to children that any dog can bite if it is scared, confused or in pain – even their own family pet. Many dogs that bite have been teased or annoyed by children in the past.

Some children find a dog’s aggressive behaviour amusing. When they discover that certain actions can make a dog growl, lift his lip or snap, they repeat those actions. If repeatedly provoked, a dog may eventually feel the need to escalate his “message” by biting.

Teach children of all ages to respect animals and handle them gently. Explain to children that most dogs are our friends and that they like to spend time with us and be part of our family.


Children must never sneak up on a dog that is eating or sleeping and give it a fright! If the dog is eating, children must wait until the dog has moved away from the feed area before approaching it. If the dog is sleeping, children need to stand back and call the dog out of bed if they want to give it a pat.

Any dog could bite them if it is scared, confused or in pain – even their own dog. Children must let a dog see them before they approach it. They must let a dog see and sniff them before they pat it.



It can be dangerous to play chasing games or tug-of-war with a dog. These games teach dogs to bite hard and be rough with people – we don’t want to teach dogs that! Don’t encourage children to lie on the floor and wrestle with dogs.

Teach children to play hide and seek where the dog has to find them or something they hide, and fetch where the child swaps the thing for a treat so the dog learns to give it back. Show children how to teach the dog tricks like sit, down, roll over and play dead.



Dogs like being on their own when they eat or chew a bone. Explain to children that if they touch or play with a dog while it’s eating the dog might think they are trying to take some of its food. A dog protecting its food could bite. Teach children to stay away from a dog’s food or bones, even when it is not eating them.



All dogs are different! If children have a dog at home it is probably very friendly because it is used to having children around and used to the games they want to play. Many children get bitten finding out that they can’t treat dogs living with other people the way they treat their own dog.

Children must be taught not to go near strange dogs.

Always ask the owner before you meet their dog!

Even if they have met the dog before, be careful!

Never ever leave kids and dogs to play together unsupervised!


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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