Dog Training

How-to-Teach Children to Avoid Being Bitten by Dogs

The number of children being bitten by dogs is typically on the rise during the summer time, whether it is by dogs the child knows well or an unknown aggressive dog. A lot of parents do not know how-to-teach children to avoid being bitten by dogs, with many children being severely bitten as a result. With so many children not knowing how to approach dogs properly, trouble can happen pretty fast. It is much easier to teach children to avoid being bitten by dogs before the traumatic event ever happens, believe me.

The reasons for a child to be bitten varies–kids are out more during the summer months making fast-moving targets with bike riding or running, more people are out walking their dogs,  loud voices are heard in parks or beaches around dogs who may or may not be used to them. But the fact remains: there are approximately 4.5 million people every year bitten by dogs. Most bites involve children who do not know how to act around dogs, with over half under the age of 13.  The worst part of this is that the bites sustained are much worse for children than adults.

Aggressive dogs in the summer can be the friendly dog at your feet to one who has bitten the next door child, developed from specific settings that builds up in summer time aggressiveness in dogs. Not all aggressive dogs are pit bulls, dobermans, German shepherds,or rottweilers –but many times will stem from problems owners or children not taught properly how to act around dogs. Dogs are dogs, and are controlled/trained by their owners. Children are children, and should be taught by their parents how to act around dogs. Bites occur to an imbalance of the two.


The first thing most children to with a strange dog or one they halfway know is to quickly approach it, talking loudly while either attempting to hug the dog or to place their face close the dog’s face. This is typically when a dog will bite. Other times are when an uncontrolled dog feels a child running or on a bike is a threat, resulting in the dog chasing them and attacking/biting the child.

In a public place, dogs should be on a leash and controlled, which is a common sense practice. Dog owners who cannot contain or control their dogs should not have the dog in their possession. Period. This involves leashes which break ending in dogs biting children or adults. It involves dogs who “get away” while being walked. It involves dogs who get out of yards as the dog owners cannot provide safety for their dogs. Once or twice may be forgiven, but after that….NOT!

The other situation involves teaching the child to respect the property of someone else–their dog.

  • Ask the owner if the dog can be approached and petted. The owner can answer in two ways: NO or YES.
  • If the owner says yes, then they are responsible for what their dog does.
  • Have the child walk toward the dog slowly and carefully,  while speaking in a calm and quite tone.
  • The hand of the child should slowly be held out toward the dog, allowing the dog to smell it. Saying “hello” to the dog followed by the dog’s name, the hand should be palm down with the back of the hand toward the dog. The front of the hand placed toward the dog is considered an aggressive action on the part of the child.
  • Watch for the dog’s reaction. If they stiffen and growl, have the child slowly remove their hand. If the dog wags its tail and licks the hand, the animal will probably accept the child’s advances. But still be slow and cautious, having the child talk gently to the dog while saying its name.
  • Children who sneak up on a sleeping dog or a dog who is eating stands a good chance of being bitten. They bite without knowing who they are biting out of fear or they are protecting their food, which is an instinctive behavior.
  • If a dog has a toy, they may be overly protective over their “hunted possession” and may bite an approaching child.  Have the child learn NOT to approach a dog in such a situation or remove the toy from the dog before the child plays with the dog.
  • Teach the child to never pet a strange dog in the car belonging to some else. The dog feels their owner’s vehicle is their private space, and they typically will “guard” it with their life.
  • Teach the child to not reach over the fence of someone else’s property to pet the dog on the other side. The same as the car situation, the dog will naturally and instinctively protect their property.
  • Children should always be taught about the body language of dogs–frightened dogs have a tendency to put their tail between the legs, ears are folded back, dogs who circle the child in a stalking behavior, stiffening of the body, frightened dogs will run away while an aggressive will chase the child.

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  1. December 30, 2012 at 3:14 am — Reply

    Yes, Sherry, this could be a dangerous situation. They both are young and very trusting, but not all animals are kind because that is how they were treated in other homes. They learned to bite out of self defense, they learned to attack because the were kicked and hit, and many other things. Learning to understand body language in animals and in people will make them safe from harm. Maybe you could take them to a local shelter to volunteer, telling the staff what your problems is. Some of the dogs will be friendly and some will not … they need to be showed the difference.

    Your children are young, but what they learn now will benefit them as they grow. One visit will not show them, but maybe setting up one day a week or so will help them and also help some of the lonely abandoned smaller and kinder animals. Animal lovers love animals. No doubt about that, but this love needs a little fine-tuning! haha

  2. Sherry
    December 29, 2012 at 8:16 am — Reply

    I love you website! I am wondering if someone on your staff can help me help my kids. My kids, who are 4 and 6, love dogs and cats and it doesn’t matter who they belong to. I have tried to teach them to look at the dog’s “body language,” and to not just approach any dog without giving the dog or the cat time to look at them and smell them. But they will not listen. Maybe if it comes from you it will help?? I can show them what you said. thank you so much! Sherry Hames

    I am so afraid they are going to get bitten! Or scratched if it’s a cat! Please help.

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