Preventing bites in the dog days

They call August the dog days of summer for a reason. Besides the unrelenting heat and humidity, by the time the summer draws to a close, most of us are tired of feeling hot and sticky, and the same goes for our dogs. In addition to the pool and the beach, summertime can also be the time for dog bites. The hot weather combined with active get-togethers creates the ideal combination for accidents waiting to happen in the form of pooch nips.

Naturally, children are more prone to being bitten by dogs, largely because due to age or ignorance, not all of them know the proper way to behave around dogs.

Below are 10 tips you and your children must know about approaching and playing with dogs, especially in the summertime.

• Dogs get overheated and cranky, just like us. Sometimes they need to not be around people. Pet owners can do them a favor and keep them away from people during family get-togethers and barbecues.

• Supervision, supervision, supervision! Kids, particularly younger children, need to be watched when playing with dogs. Babies and toddlers don’t always know that a dog is not a toy.

• Never approach unfamiliar dogs. One can never tell if a dog is friendly or not, so children should learn from an early age not to approach a dog they do not know.

• Monitor hugs and cuddles. A child may look like he is trying to show his love for a dog, but the pooch may interpret that affection as harmful and protect himself.

• Do not go after a dog that does not want to be around you. If the dog retreats to her bed, let her be. Teach your children to let the dog have some peace.

• Never hit, kick, punch, or tease a dog. From babyhood, children need to be taught how to treat a dog. It is anything but fun for canines, and that behavior will surely provoke even the kindest of dogs to lash out.

• Do not approach a sleeping dog. It’s best for children to let sleeping dogs lie, in this case.

• Never blow in the face of a dog or stare at him very close up. This behavior may provoke them, and you don’t want to chance that.

• Do not take a dog’s food or treats away. Children should never take treats away, as this could cause the dog to become aggressive.

• Give them some (quiet, cool) space. Sometimes, the absolute best thing a pet owner can do is place her dog in an air-conditioned room by himself during parties. This especially applies to senior dogs that cannot handle the noise and chaos.

Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Find Sullivan on her blogs, Just Write Mom and Some Puppy To Love.