RSPCA strives to reduce dog bite risk for children

With the school summer holidays upon us, children and dogs will be spending more time together and the RSPCA has produced advice for parents and children to help make sure this time is spent safely.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, in the 12 months to January 2014, the age group with the highest number of hospital admissions for dog bites was children aged between 0-9 years old. Hospital injury data also show that young children are more likely to be bitten by a family dog than one they don’t know.

The RSPCA believes a key factor in reducing bite related incidents is understanding dog behaviour and how to interact safely around them.

That is why the RSPCA has worked in partnership with internationally-acclaimed vet and animal behaviourist Dr Sophia Yin to launch a series of materials aimed at teaching children how they should and should not interact with dogs, as well as a leaflet for parents highlighting different behaviours dogs use depending on how they feel.

Dr Sam Gaines, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA said, “As a mother and dog owner myself, it is clear that children and dogs can be really great friends and dogs can help children develop kindness, understanding and respect for living things. Having a dog as a friend can improve a child’s social skills with people and caring for a pet can encourage responsibility.”

“However, it is important parents teach children how to interact with dogs in a safe way and understand and recognise dog behaviour so they can keep both happy, safe and relaxed,” she added.

The RSPCA has put together the ‘Six Golden Rules' for keeping kids safe and dogs happy:


?     Make sure your child  is never left alone in the same room as a dog including your own dog

?     Do not approach dogs if they are eating or have food; have a toy or something else they really like; if they are sleeping or on their bed; are sick, sleeping, in pain or tired.

?     Remind your child to be kind, gentle and polite to their pets.

?     Teach your child to play nicely with their dog, by encouraging them to teach fun tricks like shake a paw, play dead and roll over.

?     Always supervise your child when they are with their dog, and look for signs that the dog might be feeling uncomfortable such as yawning, lip licking or avoiding eye contact.

?     Teach them not to approach an unfamiliar dog or one which you as parents don’t know to be friendly towards children.


The RSPCA also recommends providing your dog with a cosy spot in a quiet room where the dog can retreat to if they need their own space and teach your child to leave your dog alone when they are in their private spot.

There are plenty of fun and safe games that kids can play with their dog to strengthen their bond with the family pet

These include things like hiding treats in the garden for the dog to find and playing games like fetch or training simple tricks like roll over, high five, give a paw, hide and seek

The RSPCA has produced posters, leaflets and a short video to help support parents. For more information please go to:




RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288  Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 07825 158490
Email:  Website:

Did you know that there are over 800 horses, ponies and donkeys in RSPCA care at the moment? Find out more about adopting a rescue horse, pony or donkey – or other ways you can help:

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals registered charity no: 219099 Registered office: RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 9RS