Each year several million people are bitten by dogs, and it’s usually by a dog they know. Though most of the victims are under the age of 12, adults are often unaware of the simple steps they can take to keep themselves and their children safe.


Never pet a dog when he’s eating.

Dogs are often protective of their food – it’s difficult for them to distinguish between a hand reaching towards them for affection and a hand reaching down to steal something they value. To keep your family safe, it’s extremely important to teach your dog at a young age that a hand coming towards their bowl is a good thing, as it often contains something even yummier than their kibble. This association will eliminate their natural inclination to protect their food.

Never pet a dog when he's sleeping.

Waking a dog up suddenly from a sound sleep can be dangerous. In a moment of confusion, your dog might feel threatened and bite to "protect" himself. Simply call your dog’s name softly and let him wake up first.

Never grab anything out of your dog's mouth.

Some dogs see their toys as a valuable resource just like their food. It’s difficult for them to distinguish between you reaching towards their toy to play with them, and you grabbing their toy to steal it. It’s important to teach your dog early on that giving up a possession often means they get something even better in return. Having a “drop it” command keeps your fingers safe!

Never pet a dog when she’s with her puppies.

All animals are protective of their young and want to keep them safe. Teach young children to wait until the dog leaves the room before playing with their babies, even if it’s their own pet.

Never pet a dog through a fence.

Most dogs become protective of whatever area they spend time in. They see your hand as an intrusion and might bite you to defend their territory.

Never run away from a stray dog.

It is a dog’s natural instinct to chase anything that moves. Running from a dog activates their prey drive. It is best to stand perfectly still. Yelling and kicking in an attempt to scare the dog off will only agitate him further. Be careful not to stare the dog in his eyes as he might see this as a challenge. Once the dog becomes disinterested in you, slowly walk away.

The safe way to approach a dog:

Many dogs are frightened by strangers, so always ask the owner for permission before petting an animal. Hold out your hand slowly and give the dog a chance to sniff you first. Then pet him on his chest, shoulder or back. Avoid petting the dog’s head because he might see this as an act of dominance.