Kids and dog bites: How to prevent them

Expert tips on helping kids avoid dog bites. Expert tips on helping kids avoid dog bites. Photo Credit: Fotolia

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Q. What are some tips I can share with my child to help prevent a dog bite?

A. Use a stuffed dog to practice the following tips, advises Laura Roach, director of training and behavior for Camp Bow Wow, a dog day care and boarding franchise with more than 120 facilities nationwide, including Hicksville:

First ask the dog's owner, "May I pet your dog?" The owner can warn the child if the dog tends to be skittish.

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When petting, a child should first ball his hand into a fist so the dog can't grab fingers. Offer the fist to the dog to sniff. Don't reach for the top of the head, which can seem threatening. Pet under the chin or the dog's side.

Don't grab fur, ears or tail. Hug with caution; a dog feeling restrained might bite.

Don't run or scream when encountering a stray dog. Roach teaches kids to "Be a tree." Stand still with arms at sides, and look in the air, ignoring the dog until it leaves.

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A child younger than 10 should never be left alone with a dog, no matter how trusted that family's pet is, Roach says. Children can't pick up on signals that a dog is agitated. For playdates, don't be afraid to request that your child not be left with the family dog without adult supervision.

Camp Bow Wow offers a kids' educational book called "Scout Says, 'Dogs Get Nervous, Too'" that teaches these tips.

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