Featured artist: Shannon Crees

Dog safety

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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Dog safety

Most dogs are friendly but some may be angry, frightened or excited. It is important we understand a dog's needs and feelings.

When a dog is sleeping or eating, sick or frightened it may not want to be disturbed. It may not want to be approached when it is playing with a toy.

When approached by a strange dog, it is important to look at the dog's behaviour.

Friendly dogs appear relaxed and calm.
Friendly/happy dog

Frightened dogs appear unfriendly and may bite. They have their tail lowered and sometimes between their legs. They may stand crouched down or cowering and may have their head lowered and turned away and not look at you.
Frightened dog

Angry dogs are unfriendly and may bite. An angry dog will stand up straight, have its ears up, straighten its tail and may lift its lip or bark.
Angry dog

Improve your child's safety around dogs

  • Teach your child not to approach a strange dog
  • Don't let your child tease or play rough with a dog
  • Don't let your child cuddle a dog around its face
  • Teach your child to leave a dog alone when it is eating or sleeping
  • Teach your child to never run towards or around a strange dog
  • Practice identifying a dog's body language
  • Practice safe interaction with friendly dogs
  • Practice how to deal with an angry or frightened dog
  • Teach you child that just because their pet dog is friendly and tolerant does not mean that all dogs are the same

Teach your child how to approach a friendly dog

  • Ask the mum, dad or adult with you first
  • Ask the dog owner next
  • Ask the dog also!
  • Stand quietly next to the dog (not in front as this may scare the dog)
  • Wait to see if the dog comes to you and wants to be patted
  • Curl your fingers and slowly hold your hand out for the dog to sniff
  • Don't pat the dog if it backs away or doesn't sniff your hand
  • Pat the dog under the chin or on the front of the chest 
  • Don't pat the dog on top of the head as it may not like it
  • Don't stare at the dog
  • Don't jump around or scream

Children should never be left alone with any dog, even the family pet dog. Be aware that a dog's tolerance level – even the family pet dog – may change when it gets older, is in pain or stressed, or when it has been overexposed to children and just wants to be left alone.

What to do if approached by a strange dog

  • Don't run – stand completely still
  • Don't pat the dog
  • Don't talk to the dog or try to calm it down
  • Tuck your hands under your arms
  • Do not look into the dog's eyes
  • Stay calm – don't scream
  • Slowly back away

If a dog jumps on you or knocks you over, don't scream, remain quiet, curl up into a ball, put your head down and tuck your arms and hands under your chest until the dog goes away.

Screaming, moving around or pushing the dog away may make the dog angry or increase its excitement or anxiety.