Dog Bite Prevention


Each year, more than 4.5 million people 
in the U.S. are bitten by dogs

Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.

  Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs. 

Over the past five years in Vermont, over 550 children were treated at hospitals for bite wounds. This number does not include children who were bitten where the bite may not have broken the skin and therefore medical help was not pursued, or children who were snapped at by dogs but contact did not occur. Thus we can reasonably assume that there were more bites or attempted bites than the 550 that are documented.

Is this picture ok? DBPP

The VVMA has a program geared to elementary school-aged children to teach them how to interact safely around dogs in order to avoid bites. 

If you are interested in participating in the VVMA's effort or in learning more about bringing the program to your local school, please contact VVMA Associate Director Linda Waite-Simpson.  The Vermont Veterinary Medical Association wants to help reduce these numbers.  Through education, we hope to keep families and pets happy and safe...together!


Recognize the signs that a dog may be uncomfortable with children.  
Watch the video on the home page of and help prevent dog bites!

Guide for Adults and Children

Here's a list of when you or your child should avoid touching a dog, whether the dog is yours or someone else's.

  • If the dog is not with its owner.
  • If the dog is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog.
  • If the dog is on the other side of a fence, don't reach through or over a fence to pet the dog.
  • If the dog is sleeping or eating.
  • If the dog is sick or injured.
  • If the dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of her puppies and anxious about your presence.
  • If the dog is playing with a toy.
  • If the dog is a service dog.  Service dogs are working animals trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of normal living and should be distracted while they are doing their jobs.
  • If the dog is growling or barking.
  • If the dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone in its special place.  A special place could be his bed, her crate, in a corner, or under a table.

Kiddos and Dog - DBPP



Guide for Expectant Parents and Pre-School Age Children:

  • Bookmarks: Featuring recommended children’s books on safe interactions with dogs, these printable bookmarks are perfect for encouraging safe reading habits.
  • Animated Video Collage: The Dog-Smart Kid Quiz comes to life in this engaging animated video, accompanied by a printable flyer and magnets with quiz questions and answers, generously provided by UVM.
  • Social Media Posts: Tailored messaging for both children and parents, perfect for sharing important safety tips and raising awareness.
  • Coloring Pages: Designed to reinforce crucial safety messages, these pages are both fun and educational for young children

Guide for Dog Owners

Any dog can bite.  Often, dogs use aggression because they are afraid of or worried about what they perceive as being a threat.  If the dog cannot escape the threat or has signaled that it is uncomfortable and yet the threat still persists, a dog bite may occur.


Socialization is critical to help dogs cope with everyday situations involving adults and children.

  • Make sure that you spend time socializing your dog so that he is prepared for life in your household.  Your dog will need to have controlled and positive exposures to people, environments, activities and objects that will be part of his life with you.
  • Dogs have different personalities -- some are more cautious than others.  Let your dog withdraw from interactions if he or she shows signs of being uncomfortable.  Work at a pace so that your dog enjoys the socialization process.
  • Puppy classes for socialization can be very helpful as part of the overall plan.  They are not a substitute for every-day socialization within your household, with visitors and on walks.
  • Provide a place for your dog to relax away from times or areas of high activity or excitement in the household.
  • Feed your dog away from high traffic areas in your home.
  • Supervise all interactions between your dog and all children.
  • Hugging or holding onto dogs can make many dogs very uncomfortable.
  • Teach children and adults to avoid prolonged eye contact, quick or jerky movements, and high-pitched or loud sounds when interacting with your dog or any dog.
  • Never allow anyone to tease your dog.  Teasing may include attempting to take a toy or food away, pretending to hit or kick a dog, pulling ears or tail, pinching or poking at your dog.
  • Remember that what your dog likes or tolerates that you do to him (for instance, petting or picking up) does not mean that anyone else should be allowed to do this.
  • Make sure your dog has regular visits to your veterinarian as part of an overall wellness program, and his or her vaccinations, including rabies, are current.
  • Pain of any intensity can be a factor in why dogs may bite.  If you see a change in your dog's behavior and/or you suspect that pain may be an issue, please make an appointment with your veterinarian to address these issues.
  • Teach children to confidently and quietly walk away if they are confronted by an aggressive dog.  Instruct them to stand still if a dog goes after them, and then take a defensive position.  It often helps to tell them to "be a tree:" stand quietly, with their hands low and clasped in front of them, remain still and keep their hed down as if looking at their feet.  If they are knocked down, teach them to cover their head and neck with their arms and curl into a ball.

In-Depth Guides
Dig into the following 
websites for more information on children
 and pets.

Dig in _DBPP

 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

This website provides a rich and comprehensive section on children and pets, the importance of proper and livelong socialization of your pet, puppy development and responsible dog ownership.  There is a Literature Review of Socialization that spells out the importance of the different periods in puppy development and how proper socialization helps a dog cope in every-day life with humans without using aggression.  There are also podcasts on puppy classes, dog bite prevention, and why punishment of dogs is counterproductive.

Doggone Safe

Doggone Safe has excellent information, photographs and videos for kids, parents and dog owners, including dog body language and dog safety for kids.

Stop the 77

This website provides very child-friendly information, including videos of situations that make dogs uncomfortable with children.  Be sure to watch the video on the homepage showing how those "cute" pictures of dogs and kids actually show dog body language that is highly uncomfortable and may lead to bites.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
Has information on dog body language, safety tips for children, and recommendations for pet owners.


Center for Canine Behavior Studies - BeBiteSmart Program


The Vermont Veterinary Medical Association's mission is to promote excellence in veterinary medicine, animal well-being and public health through education, advocacy and outreach.