Dogs may be considered to be man’s best friend, but parents of children ages five to nine, take heed: these are the years when the greatest number of injuries from dog bites occurs. And since people sustain more than 4 million dog bites each year, a significant number of children have suffered this painful and frightening trauma. It’s essential to understand how you can teach your children how to safely interact with their pets in order to minimize the likelihood of Florida dog biting.

How to read Rover’s behavior

Show children how they can use body language to interpret a dog’s temperament. These behaviors should be seen as red flags, indicating that the dog does not want to interact:

  • A stiff-legged, very still stance
  • Smacking of the lips
  • Growling and/or showing its teeth
  • Raising its tail
  • Direct, strong eye contact
  • Showing the whites of its eyes
  • Flattening the ears
  • Fur standing up on its back

If children encounter a dog exhibiting any of the above, teach them to stand tall while backing away slowly from the dog, making sure to avoid direct eye contact.

Don’t invite a dog bite

Children’s behavior may trigger a dog’s prey or protective instincts. For example, teasing a dog, disturbing it while eating, scaring it or waking it suddenly, or taunting a dog by taking away its favorite object (such as a bone or toy) can create a situation where the dog may bite. Even loving expressions placed incorrectly—like grabbing dog around the neck (which they don’t like) for a hug or a kiss can trigger a bite; in fact, that’s how many children incur bites to the face and neck.

Florida dog biting incidents occur just as they do anywhere else in the land, but knowing how to read the warning signs that a dog is communicating can help save your children from a painful lesson.