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National Dog Bite Prevention Week

OregonLive.com offers a handy guide to teaching kids appropriate behavior around dogs to prevent dog bites. 

“Dogs are also more likely to attack if they feel their food or home territory is being threatened.

That’s why it’s so important that people – and especially children – should never approach a dog that is sleeping, eating, chewing on a bone. The same is true for dogs that are behind a fence, tethered in a yard or inside a car.

Approach a dog only if the owner is present, and never leave children alone with pets unattended.

Kids tend to be more at risk for being bitten because they typically approach animals fearlessly rather than cautiously, Dr. Katherine Miller, director of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Research says, and their movements are more abrupt and less gentle than those of adults.

“It’s important to first ask permission of the owner if it’s OK to pet the dog, and then ask the dog for permission,” Miller says.

Do that by putting your hand out with palms are facing upward; a palms-down position may indicate to the dog that you intend to strike.

If the dog seems open to being touched, don’t pet the top of its head, which canines also interpret as aggressive.

Instead, reach for Fido’s chest, the front flank where the legs meet the chest, or its shoulders.

Children are also smaller, “so they’re right at eye level with dogs and often stare directly at them, which is a threatening gesture to a dog,” Miller says.

If you have a dog with aggressive tendencies, train him to wear a basket muzzle (not a sleeve muzzle, which prevents panting and should be worn only briefly).

You may feel uncomfortable, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Read the full article on Oregon Live here.