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With kids playing outside this summer they are more likely to come across dogs in the park or in the neighborhood. Regardless of whether the dog is a stray or belongs to a family, here are some recommendations from Prevent the Bite to decrease the risk of your child being bitten.
Wait, Ask, Invite, Touch
In order to pet a dog, you must go through each step of the WAIT process.
Wait to approach the dog
until you see that the dog is with his owner and appears to be friendly. STOP and walk away if the dog is alone or looks frightened or angry. If you come across an unleashed dog with no owner nearby, stand like a tree or lie still like a rock if you're already on the ground.
Ask for permission to pet the dog from its owner. STOP and walk away if the answer is no. Even if the dog looks friendly from a distance, it may not enjoy interacting with strangers.
Invite the dog to approach you. Talk in a gentle voice to the dog. Keep your hands loosely at your sides. STOP and do not touch the dog if he doesnt come over to sniff you.
Touch the dog gently on its chest or back. Dogs can be sensitive about petting on their head, face, or tail area, so avoid these areas with a dog you do not know well.
The website PreventTheBite.com has the above information in a picture style format that might help when you're teaching your kids. The pawprint at the lower right side of the screen walks kids through the process.
If your child does get bitten, wash the site with soap and water. If the skin is broken, call us to have the bite site examined. Many times even if the wound is open we will not recommend stitches, etc, immediately due to the risk of infection but we might start your child on antibiotics. If the skin is broken, try to find out if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. Have a vet examine the dog in question to see if the animal needs to be quarantined or might have health problems leading them to be agitated or scared. Also check when your child had his/her last tetanus vaccination.