Dog Bite Prevention
Dog Bite Prevention


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Dog bites are a serious public health problem. Half of all children will be bitten by a dog by the time they are twelve and the majority of these bites will be by the family dog or another dog known to the child. A dog bite can be traumatic for everyone: the person bitten, the victim’s family, the family of the dog, and the dog as well.

Most dogs give a warning before biting. Unfortunately, since dogs use a different language than we do, humans do not always recognize those

Dog Bite Prevention for Expectant Families*

Before the Baby Arrives

A playful pounce, an errant paw, a gentle tug... dog actions that seem cute now can be of concern with a baby in the picture. Before the baby arrives is the best time to acquaint the dog with appropriate behavior and routines so the dog won’t be punished, isolated and confused later.

  • Create a cozy den – get a crate and teach the dog to love it.
  • Brush up on obedience skills – use lots of food rewards so that the dog enjoys the sessions.
  • Vary feeding and walking schedules and accustom the dog to increased periods of alone time.
  • Carry a doll and practice commands while your hands are full. Reward for sit, down and calmness around the doll.
  • Accustom the dog to walking beside the stroller and behaving calmly around other baby equipment, such as swings and seats.
  • Introduce your dog to baby sounds, scents and equipment before baby
Dog Bite Prevention for Families with Toddlers*

A crawling or walking baby may become of interest to a previously disinterested dog. The baby will also discover the dog, and may hurt or frighten the dog by mistake. Neither dog nor toddler can be expected to know how to behave around the other.

  • Do not allow a baby or toddler to hug, kiss, follow or chase the dog, or pull fur, ears or tail, or enter the dog’s crate or sleeping area.
  • Reward the dog with food treats for calm behaviour around the toddler.
  • Give the dog a safe place to retreat from the toddler.
  • If a toddler or crawling baby is interacting with the dog, an adult must also have their hands on the dog.
  • Adults should use food rewards to desensitize the dog to the things a toddler may do.
  • Recognize warning signs from the dog, such as moving away, half moon eye, licking chops when not eating, yawning when not tired, or sudden
Dog Bite Prevention for Families with School Age Children*

Older children can become involved with the care and training of the dog. A child, who is old enough to follow instructions reliably, can help with the dog under supervision.

  • Children can give the dog food and water, once the parents have taught the dog to sit and wait.
  • Children can let the dog out of the crate.
  • Create separate dog and kid zones in the home so that each can be safe from the other.
  • Children should learn to stand still (Be a Tree) if the family dog is too frisky or any dog scares them.
  • Children should avoid strange dogs and strangers with dogs.
  • Parents should learn to read dog body language and teach the children how to tell if a dog does not want to be bothered.
  • Avoid games that pit the strength and speed of the dog against the child.
  • Even a child as young as three, can learn to help with clicker training.

*Adapted from materials developed by our friends at

Dog Bite Prevention for Family Gatherings*

 Family gatherings at a relative’s house are the source of fond memories for many. The relative’s dog may not enjoy these events as much as the rest of the family. Noise, confusion and changes in routine are stressful for dogs. Even a normally calm and docile pet may become agitated enough to bite under the extreme circumstances of a boisterous family celebration. Supervision may be lax if each adult thinks that another is watching the children. Children are the most likely victims of dog bites in this situation.

  • Put the dog in his crate with a bone or favorite chew toy, at least during the most hectic times – guests arriving and leaving as well as dinner preparation and serving.
  • Assign one adult to be in charge of the dog, to watch for signs of stress and to protect the dog from unwanted attention from children.
  • Assign one adult to supervise each baby or toddler with no other
Dog Bite Prevention for Babysitters*

Now that your baby is settled into a routine, you might want an adult night out. Once you have chosen a qualified babysitter, you will want to make sure that she knows the dog rules. Ideally the dog can just stay in the crate while the babysitter is there, but if this is not possible then house rules concerning the dog should be established and posted on the fridge.

  • The children are never left alone with the dog even for a second.
  • In order to gain compliance from the dog the babysitter should use treats rather than force.
  • The dog should not be bothered when eating, sleeping, or chewing on something in her special place.
  • Children may not interact with the dog when the parents are not home.
  • The babysitter should prepare by visiting the Doggone Safe website to learn how to read dog body language.

*Adapted from materials developed by our friends at

Doggone Safe Be A Tree™ by Green Acres

Green Acres Kennel Shop is proud to be a member of Doggone Safe. Co-owner, Don Hanson is a licensed presenter of the Doggone Safe  “Be a Tree” educational  dog bite prevention program for children. We are making this program available to schools and other youth program in the greater Bangor region at no charge.

The “Be a Tree” program is an innovative and interactive dog bite prevention education program aimed at primary grade children. It teaches children how to read dog body language and how to act safely around dogs by looking at large format photographs and by playing interactive games. The program is unique in its use of several different teaching strategies, its focus on physical activity and its emphasis on positive messages. Instead of telling

Other Dog Bite Prevention Resources

Be A Tree Program – A description of Doggone Safes Be A Tree program, including samples videos of the program in action.

Body Language of Fear in Dogs - - A downloadable poster from the website of Dr. Sophia Yin that illustrates body language displayed by dogs when afraid.

Dog Bites: Why Bandit Bites - A video from the website of Dr. Sophia Yin demonstrating how Dr. Yin works with a dog with a bite history.

Doggone Crazy Game – A video of a game for children produced by Doggone Safe that helps them learn dog body language.


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