Nobody wants to experience the pain and trauma of a dog bite. This information sheet will provide you with some hints and tips that you can share with your friends and family to help prevent dog bites. Keep in mind these tips do not completely eliminate the possibility of a dog bite. Remember that any dog can bite and most people are actually bitten by dogs that they know. There are five tools that you can use to be safe around dogs.
Tool 1 – Your Body
Put your body in one of two poses:
- Tree pose – Plant your feet firmly into the ground like roots and fold your arms in nice and tight while clasping your hands together and allow the dog to sniff you.
- Log pose – This pose is perfect if you’re already on the ground when the dog approaches you. Lie on the ground on your stomach and place your face into the ground. Put your hands on the back of your neck to protect yourself and allow the dog to sniff you.
Tool 2 – Your Eyes
Use your eyes to look at the dog’s body language. Quickly check to see if the dog looks happy and approachable. You may see the dog looks angry or aggressive and does not want to be approached.
Use the word PETT to remember some of the body language signs you can watch for:
- P is for pose – if a dog is crouched down, and his paw is lifted, he is scared and might get mean if we go near him.
- E is for ears – if a dog’s ears are pinned back on his head, he is uncomfortable and we shouldn’t approach him.
- T is for tongue – if a dog is licking his lips, he does not want to be bothered.
- T is for tail – if a dog’s tail is straight up in the air, or tucked down under his legs, he is uncomfortable, and we should give him some space.
Tool 3 – Your Mouth
Always use your mouth to ask the dog’s owner for permission to pet the dog. Remember to ask your parents for permission to approach a dog. If you don’t have a parent with you when you see the dog, then you should stay away. If your parent and the dog’s owner say it’s okay to pet the dog, then you’ll use your next tool…
Tool 4 – Your Fist
Never use your fist to hurt an animal. Instead, make a loose fist with your hand and use it to let the dog sniff you. Keeping your fingers tucked in will prevent any bites on your fingers. Dogs have strong noses and they like to sniff new people as an introduction – similar to how we shake hands. Once you’ve used your eyes to make sure the dog is still friendly, use your fist to pet the side of his neck. Remember to let the dog come to your hand. Never stick your fist or face in a dog’s face. When meeting a new dog, make sure your hand is below their face and not above it.
Tool 5 – Your Legs
The last tool is our legs. You can use your legs when you have finished petting a nice dog, or if the dog you thought was nice doesn’t seem so nice anymore. If you are petting a dog that seemed nice, and he starts showing some of the signs of PETT (Pose, Ears, Tongue, Tail) then you can use your legs to walk away. Never run away. This may cause the dog to chase you.