The American Humane Association has a new program called KIDS (Kids Interacting with Dogs Safely). The emphasis is on preventing dogs bites to young children, so the program targets kids ages four to seven years old. Many programs are aimed at kids older than eight, but it’s kids younger than that who so often receive serious bites to the face, head and neck.
The program focuses on getting young kids to think about dogs’ feelings in certain situations, and teaching them not to approach strange or injured dogs. In my experience, most dog bites to children happen when they try to hug dogs, even ones they know, or when they approach dogs who are tethered by a leash or rope. Teaching kids to avoid these behaviors, which many dogs object to, along with all the other educational aspects of the program should allow them to reach their goal of fewer physical and emotional injuries by dogs to young children.
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.