Monday, November 12, 2007
Animals Safety Tips for You and Your Children (Island Locator Article)
Animals Safety Tips for You and Your Children
By Katie Busenkell
Over the last two months, PAWS has launched its education committee, which is designed to educate elementary school children about responsible pet ownership and compassion towards animals. The program also talks about animal safety, an important topic to know when living among such a large number of unconfined and roaming dogs.
In case your child has not experienced a PAWS presentation on animal safety, here are some tips that you can teach your children at home.
1. Always ask a dog’s owner if you may pet the dog:
Some dogs do not like to be approached by people, especially children, they do not know. Alternatively, some dogs may be doing what they have been trained to do, like watch the house or look after an individual. Or, the dog may not be feeling well or afraid of children. For these reasons, children should never approach an owned dog without the owner’s permission.
If the dog’s owner grants you permission to pet the dog, pet the dog under the chin or on the chest. Avoid patting the dog on the head.
2. Approach a dog from the front or side:
Like people, dogs cannot see what is happening behind them. Therefore, children that approach a dog from behind may scare or surprise the dog. Loud noises, yelling, and waving hands can also scare a dog. Scared and/or surprised dogs are more likely to act defensively or possibly bite.
To avoid scaring the dog, teach your children to approach dogs from the side or front so the dog can clearly see the child.
It is also important that the children keep their hands low and speak in a soft voice as they approach a dog. Teach your children the phrase, “quietly, softly, and gently.”
3. Do not make direct eye contact with an unknown dog:
In the animal kingdom, direct eye contact can be interpreted as a sign of dominance or aggression. So, to avoid challenging a dog that you do not know, do not look a dog directly in the eye!
4. Do not bother a dog that is asleep or eating:
Nobody likes to be bothered when they are eating or sleeping, and dogs are not any different. If you bother a dog while he is eating, he may think you are trying to take his food away. It is best to just leave him alone until he done with his food.
Likewise, if a dog is sleeping, he is unaware of your presence. Waking him may startle him, and startled dogs are more likely to bite. Again, it is best to wait until he wakes up. Alternatively, you may ring a bell, squeak a toy, or call out his name before approaching the dog.
5. Do not get too close to a dog that is tied or behind a fence:
Dogs are territorial, and that means that they naturally claim a certain amount of space as their own. Again, everyone likes to have his or her own space. Likewise, dogs have their own space. So, let them have some space. Failure to respect a dog’s space may cause the animals to act aggressively.
6. Watch out for special toys and/or objects:
Dogs have their favorite toys too! It may be a stick, a squeaky toy, a bone, or leaf. Whatever it is, if the dog has it in her mouth, leave it there unless you have trained your dog to drop it and give it to you.
7. Do not get too close to a mother dog and her puppies:
Most moms are naturally protective of their young. The same applies to dogs. Thus, children should not get too close to small puppies with the mother nearby. The mother may try to protect her puppies by biting.
8. Do not run or move quickly around unfamiliar dogs:
Quick movements can startle a dog and startled dogs are more likely to bite because they are scared.
9. Stand motionless when approached by nervous or excited dog:
If a nervous dog gets close to you, stand like a tree. When you stand like a tree, you should be standing still with your arms by your side. Look down at your feet and avoid making eye contact with the dog. Be sure to keep the dog in your line of vision. Let the dog sniff you, and more than likely, he will think you are boring and non-threatening and then walk away.
10. If a dog attacks you, assume the position of a rock.
If a dog attacks, assume the position of a rock. That means curling up into a ball and protecting your face and body.
If the dog bites, be sure to wash the wound immediately with warm, soapy water for about 10 minutes. It is highly suggested that you receive medical attention.
Be sure to isolate the dog if possible. Do not further agitate the situation by kicking, yelling, or shooting the dog. Instead, try to isolate the dog and call one of the two veterinarians on the island:
Dr. Edgar Tudor
Paradise Island Animal Hospital
Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz
Department of Land and Natural Resources
Sources of Information:
For more information on PAWS, visit http://www.paws-saipan.org/ or http://www.paws-saipan.blogspot.com/.