A study finds almost half of all Iowa children will be nipped by a dog at some point. With school out and many kids playing outside, the odds of meeting up with a stray or unchained canine rise during the summer months.
Pam Wiese, spokeswoman for the Humane Society in Omaha/Council Bluffs, says some dogs see us as moving targets.
“Kids on bikes, people running, sometimes dogs with a bit of a prey drive go, ‘Oooo, someone’s running! The chase is on and I can chase you,’” Wiese says. “Often times, dogs will run and bark and not bite. Sometimes they will try to bite you. That gives a dilemma to a lot of people because they want to get away from this dog but getting away means I’m moving and he may want to chase.”
Wiese says the best thing a child — or an adult — can do if they come in contact with an aggressive dog is to stop and stand still. Her simple advice: “Be a tree.”
“Stand still, put your arms down, look at your feet and just look down,” she says. “Don’t make eye contact with a dog that appears to be approaching or is upset. He may come up, sniff you and leave, like, “Oh, you’re boring.’”
Wiese says locking eyes with an aggressive dog can actually make matters worse.
“Don’t make eye contact with the dog and a lot of times, that will just defuse the situation. The dog will go, ‘Oh, well, you’re not threatening. You’re actually kind of boring. There’s nothing to chase here. I’m going to sniff you and then go on my merry way.’”
Wiese says parents need to teach the “Be a Tree” technique to all children, as it may prevent a serious injury.
She also reminds parents to talk to their kids about how to act around a dog and never to pet an animal without the owner’s permission.