Whether it is to keep you company, help you with a medical condition or teach your children responsibility, you might have a dog for a pet. Dogs can be wonderful companions. At the same time, their natural tendency is to protect the people they live with as well as their property.

Many dogs are patient with children. However, in some circumstances a dog might misinterpret a child as a threat to their territory. Although it may be difficult to predict an animal’s behavior, you can teach your children how to approach a dog with whom they are not familiar. Doing so could reduce their chances of being bitten.

Is there a good way to approach an unfamiliar dog?

Teaching your children not to approach other people’s animals might be the safest method for preventing dog bites. However, considering children’s fascination with animals, you might be wise to help your kids learn how to approach other people’s dogs.

  • Ask the owner for permission. Depending on the dog’s background, the owner may not feel comfortable having him interact with children. You can use that as a lesson in respecting boundaries.
  • Let the dog smell you. With the owner’s permission, allow the dog to smell you before trying to reach out and pet him.
  • Do not reach for the dog’s head. Keeping your hands low, where the dog can see them, will likely pose less of a threat to him.
  • Stay out of a dog’s space. Dogs are territorial. Children should learn not to enter a yard where a dog lives.
  • Do not run away. While it likely seems counterintuitive, running can encourage a dog to chase you. Encourage your children to yell for help if a dog approaches them.

If you are a dog owner, you probably keep an eye on him as best you can. Unfortunately, not every dog owner is so diligent in watching out for others. And animals have a mind of their own. Even so, teaching your children how to handle themselves around unfamiliar animals could help keep them safe.