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Supervising Dogs And Kids Isn't Always Enough

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 885,000 Americans are in need of medical attention each year for dog bites. More than half are children under 9. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 885,000 Americans are in need of medical attention each year for dog bites. More than half are children under 9.
EDMOND, Oklahoma -

There's never a dull moment in the Davey's home in Edmond. 18-month-old Kate is the center of attention and the family dogs, Hope and Riesling are usually not far behind. Parents Jason and Heather said Kate and the dogs regularly play together.

"Kate loves to go after Hope. Running up to her, petting her. Trying to give her hugs," said Heather, Kate’s mom.

While it's obvious the dogs are crazy about Kate. Jason and Heather always have an eye on them, just in case.

"Sometimes she'll (Kate) get a little aggressive with her pat. Hope will let her know," said Jason. “Hope has gotten pretty smart to understand sometimes I just need to get away from the situation."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 885,000 Americans are in need of medical attention each year for dog bites. More than half are children under 9.

Pet trainers tell News 9 the vast majority of dog bites happen when a parent is within a few feet of the child. So the problem is not a lack of supervision. Parents don't always know what they should be watching.

Maddy Schell has been training dogs for 15 years. She said any breed can bite, even if they've never lashed out before. She gave News 9 several signs a dog could be tense or upset. She said it all starts with body language.

The eyes: "If a child is staring directly into their eyes, it can exhibit or seem that the child is challenging them to a fight," she said. "So we want to watch for a dog who is giving direct, very intense stare at a child."

The ears: "If the ears pull back while the dog is tense, it's kind of our multiplier," she said. "It lets us know that there is an abundance of emotion present. So if the dog looks nervous and the ears pull back, the dog is extremely upset."

The tail: "If the tail is tucked under, we're very nervous in that situation," she said. "Even if the tail is wagging while tucked under, the dog is feeling very vulnerable."

Amy change in demeanor: "If the dog is yawning heavily around the child, this is a sign of stress," she said.

For the Daveys, their two and four legged children seem to be getting along just fine.

Heather said, "I think if you're just relaxed and laid back and just kind of let things play themselves out, it usually works out."

More Warning Signs:

  • Stress signals: yawning, half-moon eyes and lip licking when the dog is not eating
  • Watch for loose canine body language. Stiffening and freezing in a dog are not good
  • Watch for inappropriate human behavior. Intervene if your child climbs on or tries to ride your dog. Don't allow your child to pull, yank or poke the dog.
  • Watch for avoidance behaviors. If the dog moves away from a child, he's saying, "I don't really want to be bothered, so I'll go away."
  • Listen for growling. It's an early sign of aggression.

Basic Safety Tips To Teach Children:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog or scream.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and be still.
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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