Did you know that 77% of all dog bites involve children being bitten by their family dog or a friend's family dog? Most of those dog bites can be prevented. It is important that everyone, including children, understand how to safely interact with dogs.
Dogs generally don't like hugs or kisses from children and strangers...and sometimes, not even from their favorite people! We have to learn how to read dog body language and facial language and how to interact with them.
A happy dog is loose and wiggly! Their face is relaxed, they smile with their mouth open, their ears are relaxed and floppy, and their tails are low and waggy. When dogs aren't happy, their body is tense, their mouth is closed, their ears are back and their body is tense.
When we don't listen to dog body language and continue to approach them, they may warn us away with a growl… or a bite. It often isn't the dog's fault – it is ours for not listening to them. But if the dog bites, they always lose! Sometimes they lose their home…sometimes they lose their life.
Earlysville Animal Hospital's Dr. Emily Kinnaird has a special interest and training in Behavior Medicine. Many of the pets she sees in her Behavior Consults are dogs labeled aggressive because they have a history of biting people – often their owners and children. Aggression is always a very serious issue. Some of these poor dogs are misunderstood by their very loving families.
If all dog lovers learn these skills and teach them to our children, we can help save canine lives! Call us at (434) 973-9699 with questions, or learn more about our Pet Behavior Counseling here.
Check out these videos for kids below about interacting with dogs and listening to their body language.