Aggressive Dog? What Your Child Needs to Know about Dog Safety

Does your child know what to do if they meet an aggressive dog? Teach them these simple rules so they will be safe! From

An aggressive dog might not seem like one at first…

Our family had a miniature dachshund — Gretta the teeny weenie — who was terribly cute but also very protective. For such a small thing, sometimes she could be quite an aggressive dog, which people never expected!

She would greet guests with a growl until she warmed up to them, so we had to instruct every person who came through our door to stand still and let her sniff at their feet until she wagged her tail to let us know they had passed inspection. Unfortunately, we learned this protocol the hard way after she bit my grandmother! Not awesome.

So, yeah, I know dogs can be a little unpredictable. You never know if you’re meeting a cute family pet or an aggressive dog guarding its territory– or in Gretta’s case, she thought she was both!

When you add kids to the mix, the unpredictability skyrockets…

Does your child know what to do if they meet an aggressive dog? Teach them these simple rules so they will be safe! From

Two Types of Kids (when it comes to dogs)

My preschool-aged son, Charley, is NOT a fan of dogs, which puts him in the minority of kids, I think. His normal upbeat, silly demeanor turns south when he encounters any dog. His tendency to panic could escalate a situation, so kids like him should be taught the right procedure with meeting new dogs.

Then there is the other kind of children: those who are overly comfortable around animals and assume all dogs are friendly. Since even a cute dog can be an aggressive dog (remember Gretta!), this type of child also needs to know the right way to handle dog emergencies.

It’s crucial for children to know what to do when encountering an unfamiliar dog — especially if the situation escalates and it becomes an aggressive dog.

A couple of weeks ago, my family was enjoying playing outside and eating lunch at Sonic with friends. Out of nowhere, a dog with about 18 inches of leash still attached to his collar came running toward us. No owner. At that moment, he was not an aggressive dog. But not knowing how long he had been loose and how hungry he was, my Spidey-senses were tingling. I thought, At least I know enough about dog safety to help others know what to do — just in case he becomes an aggressive dog. Would you have known what to do? Do your children?

Here’s a handy infographic for you to share with your kids:

Does your child know what to do if they meet an aggressive dog? Teach them these simple rules so they will be safe! From

Click Here to Download the PDF poster. Print and share this important safety information!

1. The First Rule with an Aggressive Dog: Don’t Run

The number 1 rule of dog safety flies in the face of our first instinct: don’t run! It’s very unlikely a child could outrun a dog, and running just increases the hunting instinct of an aggressive dog.

2. Be Alpha Dog

Dogs are historically pack animals. That means they are used to having a leader — an “alpha dog.” If kids meet a dog that they aren’t sure about — no owner in sight — remind kids that they can be in control of the situation. Instruct them to try demonstrating dominance over a dog by telling it firmly, “NO,” “Go home,” or “Sit.”

3. Be a Tree

If the dog doesn’t back off or begins to show signs of being an aggressive dog, teach your child to stand tall and still like a tree, not making eye contact with the dog. (That could be seen as a challenge.) Let the dog sniff you, but don’t put your fingers out. You don’t want to give him anything to nip! If the dog starts to jump on you or growls as if agitated, slowly draw your hands up in fists under your chin.

4. When an Aggressive Dog Won’t Quit: Elevate Yourself

The next rule of dog safety happens if the dog is still exhibiting aggressive behavior. Scout the area for a car, tree, picnic table, or a piece of playground equipment to climb on, safely out of the dog’s reach. But remember, don’t run there!

5. “Feed” the Dog

If there’s nowhere to climb or escape the aggressive dog, use what you have: a backpack, an umbrella, a water bottle, or a book all make excellent distractions for a dog. If you’re on a bike, dismount and put the bike between you and the dog. (Again, don’t try to outrun it!)

6. If You’re Knocked Down by an Aggressive Dog

If you’re knocked down, roll onto your stomach with your face down in the ground. Put your hands in fists on top of your neck with your arms in close to protect your ears.

Prevention is Key

It’s also a good idea to educate children to leave unfamiliar dogs alone and always ask an owner’s permission before you pet their dog. Give a dog time to sniff you before you reach out to pet him and never disturb a dog while she’s sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

If you’re looking for more resources to drive the point home, we have used and loved the book May I Pet Your Dog?: The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs. Buy it from Amazon (that’s an affiliate link) or check it out from your local library. You won’t be disappointed! Of course, there’s also our Safe Kids 101 e-Course, which covers this topic and lots more important safety info for kids to know. You can get started today!

Practice prepares, so role play this with your kids as they learn to respect animals and they’ll be better prepared next time you meet an unfamiliar dog in the neighborhood.

And in case you’re still wondering, the stray dog at Sonic (who was also without identification on his collar) wandered off after the longest fifteen minutes ever. Crisis averted, thankfully!

Ever had a dog emergency? Share your story below!

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About Aubrey Hunt
Before hopping on the crazy ride we call motherhood, I studied engineering and taught math and science to middle and high school students. Now, perhaps like you, I fill my days singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider and praying my preschooler will eat a vegetable — any vegetable!