NEW YORK (CNN) – According the ASPCA half of all kids will be bitten by a dog before they turn 12. Now, not all dog bites are severe, some are just “nips”, but nearly 800,000 people require medical attention because of a dog bite, each year.
Animal trainer and behaviorist, Victoria Stilwell, teaches kids and their parents the right way to interact with dogs, “Children are naturally gregarious. They are loud; they have their body movements their arms, running around with high pitched voices. This could all really elicit a negative reaction from a dog.”
When children meet a friendly dog for the first time, teach them to offer an outstretched fist for the dog to sniff before you pet him, and always pet under the chin, patting a dog on top of the head could be seen as a sign of aggression.
“If you stare at that dog, that can be seen by the dog as a threat. If you smile at that dog, you are showing your teeth, that can be seen as a threat,” Stilwell continued.
Other tips to prevent dog bites, never allow a child to put their face near a dog’s face. Never lunge at a dog or back her into a corner and look for signs that the dog is uncomfortable: a tense body, an erect or slowly wagging tail, or yawning and licking their lips.