Home Children and Young People Staying safe around dogs

Staying safe around dogs

by Cathy Sheel

While we’re all enjoying the great outdoors this summer, it’s likely we’ll be coming into contact with more of our four-legged friends along the way.

And while dogs may be ‘man’s best friend’ we need to remember some simple tips to help us all, especially children, stay safe around dogs.

It’s really important children learn to be considerate of our four-legged friends and know how to safely spend time with them. Take a look at our advice for keeping kids safe around dogs.

  • Never leave a child and dog together alone. No matter how used to dogs a child is – and visa versa – it’s essential for an adult to be actively involved at all times when they’re together.
  • Give dogs a safe space of their own. Just like us, dogs need their own space to relax. Create a doggy den or a ‘dog only zone’ where they can go, and leave them alone when they’re there.
  • Let dogs have a choice. Always give your dog the option to move away from any interaction – with children or adults – and not be followed.
  • Do not disturb. If a dog is eating, or playing happily on their own, give them plenty of space to enjoy their food, chew, or toy without being disturbed.
  • Let sleeping dogs snooze. Dogs need lots of sleep, so if a dog is resting, leave them alone.
  • Stay involved when dogs are around. Even if you teach children the rules of safe behaviour around dogs, you can’t leave it up to them to remember every time. When they’re having fun or being curious they may forget, which could put them at risk and cause stress for the dog.

Staying safe outdoors

It’s a great idea to practise what to do if a dog approaches, so you and your children are prepared when you’re out and about. Teach them that they should always ask the owner if it’s okay before going near or touching a dog, and that they need to listen if the answer is no.

If a dog you don’t know approaches you:

  • Stay calm, quiet and still.
  • Don’t stare, as this can worry dogs. Keep your gaze upwards so you can still keep track of where they are without looking straight at them.
  • If you’ve got something the dog is trying to get, like food, drop it away from you and let them have it.
  • If a dog jumps up, keep calm. Cross your arms, turn and look away. If you get knocked over, curl up in a ball and cover your head with your arms until an adult comes to help.

If you do want to say hello, here’s what to do:

  • Always ask the owner’s permission before touching their dog
  • If they say yes, stand calmly and quietly with your arms by your side and wait patiently for the dog to approach you. Then stroke the dog’s side or shoulder gently.
  • If the dog moves away, don’t go after them. Move away calmly and carry on with your walk or playtime.

What to do when temperatures rise

A dog can overheat very quickly, so here’s some simple advice to keep our dogs happy, healthy and cool in the summer heat:

  • Consider the times of day to walk your dog; early morning or evening are best as it is much cooler and take shorter walks. It’s OK to miss a dog walk if the weather is too hot.
  • Make sure your dog has access to clean water at all times, ideally a large bowl filled to the brim or access to a paddling pool. Carry water and a bowl with you on walks.
  • Check the pavement with your hand before letting your dog walk on it — hold your hand down for five seconds, if it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
  • Cool coats can help indoors and dependant on the breed it may be beneficial to keep the coat short.
  • Use fans around the home, keep blinds at an angle to keep direct sun away, and avoid heating the flooring.

For more advice about staying safe around dogs visit Staying Safe Around Dogs | Keeping Kids Safe | Dogs Trust and here’s some advice to help your pet stay cool in hot weather.