Take This Quiz to Find Out if Your Child is Dog-Safety Savvy

Why Is It So Important to Teach Young Children to Be Safe Around Dogs?

“The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that of the 80,000 Americans seeking medical attention for dog bites each year, half are children. The rate is highest among children aged 5 to 9 years, and that rate increases the younger the child. By the time children turn 12, half of them have been bitten by a dog, the overwhelming majority of which belong to friends or family. Sadly, many injuries may be the result of inappropriate behavior on the part of the child, as most children have not learned how to act around dogs. Teaching children appropriate behavior around dogs can significantly help reduce their chances of being bitten. By learning appropriate ways to act around dogs, children will not only be safer, but will also develop respect and responsibility for their actions. Finally, by understanding how dogs feel in certain situations, children will hone a sense of empathy for the feelings and needs of others.”

– Excerpt from American Humane Association, 2009

Take This Quiz With Your Child to Find Out if He or She is Dog-Safety Savvy:

IMG_1329Part of what we teach children in the How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed program is to become aware of which behaviors are good and kind around dogs, and what kids might be doing that could cause their dog to become scared, nervous, or sad (and often without kids even realizing it). Take this 12 question quiz with your child to find out your child’s behavior could be triggering your dog to defend himself:

Ask your child to answer true or false to each question below:

1. When you meet a new dog, it’s ok to run over and pet them.

2. If a dog chases you and you’re scared, run.

3. It’s all right to pick up a dog you don’t know.

4. You should never pet a dog you see in a car.

5. It’s a good idea to share your toys with your dog.

6. You should always ask before petting a dog you don’t know.

7. Dogs like it if you run, yell, and jump around them.

8. Dogs usually like it if you stare into their eyes.

9. It’s not ok to pull a dog’s ears or tail.

10. You can take your dog’s toys away from him or her whenever you want to.

11. It’s ok to wake up a dog by yelling or poking him or her.

12. If a dog is shaking, licking his lips, and panting, he’s probably feeling stress.

Answers:

1. When you meet a new dog, it’s ok to run over and pet them.

False: Just like us, dogs have personalities. Some dogs may be shy or sick and might not like to be touched by strangers. Instead of running over and petting a dog you don’t know, first ask its owner if the dog is friendly. If the answer is yes, then ask if you can pet the dog. Put your hand out slowly and gently for the dog to sniff before reaching out to touch them, and then pet them under the chin or on their chest. Reaching out over a dog’s head can be scary for them!

2. If a dog chases you and you’re scared, run.

False: If a dog is chasing you because he wants to play, he will see this as a game if you run away from them. If a dog is chasing you and (s)he seems unfriendly, still don’t run. Instead, act like a tree and be very still and quiet. If the dog still keeps bothering you, roll up into a little ball on the ground and don’t make any noise. Usually dogs will become bored with you and will go away if you do this.

3. It’s all right to pick up a dog you don’t know.

False: Many dogs don’t like to be picked up, especially if (s)he doesn’t know you, is in pain, or is afraid for any reason. It’s best to ask the owner if this is ok before picking up a dog that you don’t know well.

4. You should never pet a dog you see in a car.

True:  Dogs who are in cars can be territorial and therefore may not be friendly to strangers who approach them.

5. It’s a good idea to share your toys with your dog.

False: This can be confusing for your dog. Instead, give him or her toys and stuffed animals of their own, and put your toys away.

6. You should always ask before petting a dog you don’t know.

True: See explanation in #1.

7. Dogs like it if you run, yell, and jump around them.

False: Quick movements can scare dogs, and when dogs are scared, they will defend themselves. One of the ways that dogs defend themselves when they are scared is by fight (growling or biting) or flight (running away). Either way, yelling or jumping around dogs can make them afraid to be around you.

8. Dogs usually like it if you stare into their eyes.

False: Staring into a dog’s eyes can be scary for a dog, while other dogs may see this as a challenge However, if you know a dog really well and they feel comfortable with you, looking into their eyes can be a really nice way to connect with your pet. But if you see your dog beginning to lick his or her lips, pant, and blink a lot, they are feeling nervous and uncomfortable so you should stop.

9. It’s not ok to pull a dog’s ears or tail.

True: This hurts a dog and can make them not trust you.

10. You can take your dog’s toys or food away from him or her whenever you want to.

False: This can be dangerous because your dog will try to protect his food and toys. When a dog is protecting his or her food or toys, one of the ways they do this is by growling or even biting.

11. It’s ok to wake up a dog by yelling or poking him or her.

False: If you frighten a dog, they might bite because they are trying to defend themselves.

12. If a dog is shaking, licking his lips, and panting, he’s probably feeling stress.

True: If you see your dog exhibiting these behaviors, remove him or her from the situation that you think is causing him or her stress. Crowded places, loud noises, and sometimes even other animals around can cause your dog to feel stress. Learning these signals will help your dog to stay calm, happy, and relaxed – and keep you safe!

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