Jun 29, 2017, 1:45:52 PM CDT Feb 23, 2023, 4:47:15 PM CST

Is that dog friendly? How to prevent dog bites in children

Teach children how to approach dogs and avoid being bitten


Every year, more than 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites and at least half of them are children, per the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are more likely to be severely injured.

During the summertime, dog bites rise due to the increased amount of time both dogs and children spend outside. Whether it is an unfamiliar dog or family dog, all dogs can bite and need to be approached carefully. Follow this advice for preventing dog bites in children.

4 tips for dog bite prevention

1. Ask permission before petting a dog

Rather than running up to pet a dog, teach your children to always ask the dog owner if they can pet their dog.

2. Teach children how to pet a dog

If given permission by the dog owner, children should extend their fist and let the dog sniff them before petting. After the dog sniffs, teach your child to pet the dog on the side of the neck or body – not on their face.

3. Stand like a tree 

If your child is approached by an unfamiliar dog, teach them to bring their arms in and stare at the ground. Kids should stand still until the dog goes away. Dogs want to play but if you stand still, they will get bored and go away.

4. Curl up like a rock

Teach your child to “be a rock” if they are ever pushed over or attacked by a dog. This means they should curl up in a ball on the ground and guard their head with their arms. They should lay still until the dog leaves them alone.

How to treat a dog bite

While a dog bite can be frightening, do your best to stay calm to help your child. Examine the wound and apply pressure if it is bleeding. Call your pediatrician to determine if you should head to the ER or for more instructions. In the chance your child may need stitches, avoid giving them food or drinks.

Watch the video at the top of the page for examples of how to act like a tree and a rock.

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