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How to Greet a Dog

How To Greet - AND What To Avoid

  • Stand a safe distance away so that you aren’t seen as a threat. Avoid reaching into a dogs space such as into a car.

  • Approach slowly at a relaxed walk, avoid rushing up to the dog.

  • Ask the dogs owner if you can interact first. Avoid interacting with unfamiliar dogs, especially if they are tied up.

  • Approach sideways and look using your peripheral vision, rather than staring at the dog head on.

  • Stay outside the dog’s bubble and present your side to the dog. Avoid leaning over dogs, even when you change position to get up.

  • Let the dog approach at his own rate rather than sticking your hand out for the dog to sniff.

  • It’s ok to pet the dog if he looks relaxed, come up to you and solicits your attention by rubbing against you. Avoid petting the dog if he looks nervous or tense.

  • Pet gently- on the side or chest is usually best!

How to Greet a Dog
Dog & Baby Safety

Dog & Baby Safety


  • Allow your dog to sniff and see the baby but do not force interaction if your dog is uninterested.

  • Include your dog in a comfortable, safe way. Do not isolate your dog from the family.

  • Make a habit of closing the nursery door. Do not allow your dog to have unsupervised access to the nursery.

  • Remind your dog what you’d like them to do, and reward them for good behavior. Do not scold your dog for being curious.

  • Secure your dog and use awake adult supervision during baby playtime. Don’t ever leave your baby unsupervised.

Brought to you by Family Paws Parent Education.

Please consult a reputable, licensed trainer or dog behaviorist if you have questions or concerns about baby/dog safety.

Dog & Toddler

Dog & Toddler Safety


  • Use a gate to create a success station for your dog (See Success Station tip section). Do not allow access to dog’s food, toys or treats.

  • Plan parent-guided games with the whole family. Don’t allow toddler and dog to play alone at any time. Do not passively supervise.

  • Invite your dog over to you and your toddler. Do not allow your toddler to approach your dog.

  • Put your dog in a crate or safe space while parent is away. Don’t expect a babysitter to watch both your child and dog.

Brought to you by Family Paws Parent Education.

Please consult a reputable, licensed trainer or dog behaviorist if you have questions or concerns about baby/dog safety.

5 Types of Supervision

  1. Absent
    Adult not in the room with dog and baby/toddler.

  2. Passive
    Adult in the same location but distracted and not watching.

  3. Reactive
    Responding after dog or child is too close.

  4. Proactive
    Planning and preparing safe separation.

  5. Active
    Full awake adult supervision. Strive for active supervision at all times​.

Brought to you by Family Paws Parent Education.

Please consult a reputable, licensed trainer or dog behaviorist if you have questions or concerns about baby/dog safety.

5 Types Supervision

Success Stations

SUCCESS STATION is any designated spot that a dog is limited to so that they have no options but to succeed. This spot must be introduced in a positive manner and is for limited periods of time. Here are 3 types of success stations new and expecting families may find helpful as they include their family dogs:

TETHERING is a great way to include dogs in the daily routines once baby arrives. Many new moms feel more comfortable with their dog in their success station. Caretakers are able to move around and toss treats while the dog is able to observe the baby without any type of physical barrier.

CRATES can be wonderful cozy condos for dogs. There are many types of crates and I encourage you to find the right fit for your dog. Crating is a great option for dogs sometimes. I do encourage you to consider your dog’s emotional state while in the crate. Often a crate does not allow us to observe how our dog is handling situations.

GATES can really come in handy at times to set up a boundary for children and dogs. Please consider the type of gate that you get. Many dogs can easily push the pedal or push gates open with their nose. I like the pressure-locked plain wood gates. I can step over them and I am positive it is in place when I lock it.

Brought to you by Family Paws Parent Education.

Please consult a reputable, licensed trainer or dog behaviorist if you have questions or concerns about baby/dog safety.


How Children Should Interact with Dogs

It is our job to teach children to respect animals and interact with them appropriately.


Here are some tips:

  • Be polite and kind to pets, learn to recognize when your dog is scared or anxious.

  • Play appropriate games with pets such as fetch, training tricks (like roll over, shake etc.), going for walks, playing hide-n-seek.

  • Supervise all interactions, accidents can happen in a split second.

  • Train your dog to associate kids with positive experience so he’ll be more likely to tolerate your child in case she accidentally interacts inappropriately.

There are many things we should teach our children about interacting with animals, just as we would teach them how to interact appropriately with other children.

  • Avoid bothering dogs when they are eating.

  • Avoid taking dogs bones or toys.

  • Avoid putting your face in a dogs face/personal space.

  • Avoid bothering animals when they are resting. Let sleeping dogs lie.

  • Avoid grabbing tail and ears.

  • Avoid climbing on, trampling. Do not allow your child to “ride” your dog even though it may seem cute, this can be very upsetting and lead to bites.

  • Avoid hugging, most dogs do not like it.

  • Avoid hollering and shouting- use your inside voice!

Brought to you by Family Paws Parent Education.

Please consult a reputable, licensed trainer or dog behaviorist if you have questions or concerns about baby/dog safety.

How Kids Should

Dog Bite Prevention
brought to you by ASPCA

Increasing Safety, Reducing Risks

To reduce the number of injuries from dog bites, adults and children should be educated about bite prevention, and dog owners should practice responsible dog ownership.

Understanding dog body language is a key way to help avoid being bitten. Know the signs that dogs give to indicate that they’re feeling anxious, afraid, threatened or aggressive.

  • An aggressive dog may try to make herself look bigger. Her ears may be up and forward, the fur on her back and tail may stand on end or puff out, and her tail may be straight up—it may even wag. She may have a stiff, straight-legged stance and be moving toward or staring directly at what she thinks is an approaching threat. She may also bare her teeth, growl, lunge or bark. Continued approach toward a dog showing this body language could result in a bite.

  • An anxious or scared dog may try to make herself look smaller. She may shrink to the ground in a crouch, lower her head, repeatedly lick her lips, put her tail between her legs, flatten her ears back and yawn. She may look away to avoid direct eye contact. She may stay very still or roll on her back and expose her stomach. Alternatively, she may try to turn away or slowly move away from what she thinks is an approaching threat. If she can’t retreat, she may feel she has no other alternative but to defensively growl, snarl or even bite.

  • Many dogs can show a mixture of these body postures, indicating that they feel conflicted. Remember to avoid any dog showing any of signs of fear, aggression or anxiety—no matter what else the dog is doing. It’s important to realize that a wagging tail or a crouching body doesn’t always mean friendliness.

Safety Tips for Children

Be aware of the fact that any dog can bite. From the smallest to the largest, even the most friendly, cute and easygoing dogs might bite if provoked. The vast majority of dog bites are from a dog known to the person—his or her own pet, a neighbor’s or a friend’s. You can help protect your child from dog bites by discussing with him the appropriate way to behave around dogs. We offer the following tips:

  • Children should not approach, touch or play with any dog who is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or bone, or caring for puppies. Animals are more likely to bite if they’re startled, frightened or caring for young.

  • Children should never approach a barking, growling or scared dog.

  • Children should not pet unfamiliar dogs without asking permission from the dog’s guardian first. If the guardian says it is okay, the child should first let the dog sniff his closed hand. Then taking care to avoid petting the dog on the top of the head, he can pet the dog’s shoulders or chest.

  • Children should not try to pet dogs who are behind a fence or in a car. Dogs often protect their home or space.

  • If a child sees a dog off-leash outside, he should not approach the dog and should tell an adult immediately.

  • If a loose dog comes near a child, he should not run or scream. Instead, he should avoid eye contact with the dog and stand very still, like a tree, until the animal moves away. Once the dog loses interest, the child can slowly back away.

  • If a child falls down or is knocked to the ground by a dog, he should curl up in a ball with his knees tucked into his stomach, and fingers interlocked behind his neck to protect his neck and ears. If a child stays still and quiet like this, the dog will most likely just sniff him and then go away.

  • Children should never try to outrun a dog. If a dog does attack a child, the child should “feed” the dog his jacket, bag, bicycle—or anything that he has for the dog to grab onto or anything he can put between himself and the dog.

Recommendations for Pet Parents

Although you can’t guarantee that your dog will never bite someone, there are many ways that you can significantly reduce the risk.

  • Adopt from a well-managed animal shelter whose staff and volunteers can fill you in on the dog’s background, personality and behavior in the shelter.

  • Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. Healthy puppies can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks of age. Spayed or neutered dogs may be less likely to bite.

  • Socialize your dog! Well-socialized dogs make enjoyable, trustworthy companions. Undersocialized dogs are a risk to their owners and to others because they can become frightened by everyday things—which means they are more likely to aggress or bite. Socializing is the opposite of isolating. It’s important for puppies to meet, greet and enjoy a variety of people, animals, places and things. Done properly, socializing helps puppies feel comfortable and friendly in various situations, rather than uncomfortable and potentially aggressive. The main rule for effective socializing is to let your dog progress at her own pace and never force her to be around someone or something when she’s clearly fearful or uncomfortable.

  • Take your dog to humane, reward-based training classes—the earlier the better. We recommend starting your puppy in puppy kindergarten classes as early as eight weeks, right after her first set of vaccinations. Early training opens a window of communication between you and your dog that will help you consistently and effectively teach her good behavior.

  • Make your dog a part of the family. Don’t chain or tie her outside, and don’t leave her unsupervised for long periods of time—even in a fenced yard. Most tethered dogs become frustrated and can feel relatively defenseless, so they’re much more likely to bite. Well-socialized and supervised dogs are much less likely to bite.

  • Don’t wait for a serious accident to happen. The first time your dog shows aggressive behavior toward anybody, even if no injury occurs, seek professional help from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB), or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding an expert in your area. Your animal shelter may also offer or be able to refer you to helpful services.

  • Err on the safe side. Be aware of common triggers of aggression, including pain, injury or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, the approach of people in uniforms, costumes or unusual attire (especially hats), unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, and loud noises like thunder, wind, construction, fireworks and appliances. If possible, avoid exposing your dog to these triggers. If she seems stressed or panicked in crowds, leave her at home. If she overreacts to visitors or delivery personnel, keep her in another room when they come to your house. Work with a qualified behavior and training professional to help your dog become more comfortable with these and other situations.

  • Always supervise children and dogs. Never leave a baby or child younger than 10 years old alone with a dog. Teach your children to treat your dog gently and with respect, giving the dog her own space and opportunities to rest.

  • Fulfill basic animal-care responsibilities. License your dog as required by law and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. Don’t allow your dog to roam alone.

Dog Bite Prevention
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