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What can I do to prevent a dog from hurting my young child?

Dog owners have suffered from bites by their own pets because their dog had yet to undergo training or confused a well-intentioned greeting as a threat. If a pet will betray its owner, the same thing can happen to a stranger who comes near the animal.

As a parent of a young child, it’s important to help prepare your child with interactions with pets that belong to people you know and those you may come across in a public setting. Two of the main things you can do is teach your child the importance of asking for permission and the right way to pet a dog.

Asking for permission

Your little one may be bursting with energy and even more outgoing than you. While these are both great traits to have, it’s important to let your child know that saying hello to the human accompanying the dog before petting the dog is a rule they need to follow. You don’t have to go into detail about how some dogs may not be socialized yet, but teaching them to ask for permission before petting is crucial. Because if someone’s dog hasn’t been friendly with young children before, the owner is the only one with this knowledge.

Keeping gentleness in mind

If your child is keen to greet their friend’s dogs or dogs you pass on the walk to your local park, let them know that there are more rules beyond asking for permission. Tell them that when an owner invites them to play with their dog, they should approach the dog gently. According to research, dogs often react better when you wait for them to walk up to you, avoid hugging them and pet them on the chest or behind the hear. You can show exactly how your child should pet a dog by doing it first and letting them see.

Avoiding unknown dogs

To protect your child from the unpredictable nature of some dogs, your safest approach is to not let your child make friends with dogs they don’t know. Strangers might not be open or vocal about the dog’s vaccination history the way a friend and dog owner you know and trust might be. However, if a dog bites and hurts you, your child or someone close to you, then compensation may be available.