Part of what makes children vulnerable is their natural curiosity and innocence. Children are always ready to explore everything around them. They are not afraid to try new things.
This friendly and outgoing tendency is extended to dogs and other animals.
No matter how cute these animals are, parents should tell their children not to be deceived by appearance. Furry creatures can bite and scratch. The child may panic and the animal could react even further.
When around dogs and other pets, instruct children to:
- Treat pets properly. Do not pull their tails/ears or poke their eyes.
- Act calmly around dogs. Do not jump at them or scream in their presence.
- Not to hug dogs too tightly. If they want to pet the dog, tell them to only pet the dog’s back or side and do so gently .
- Approach the dog from the side. Do not sneak up and surprise it.
- Do not disturb a sleeping dog. Unwanted attention could make the dog angry.
- Stay away if the dog seems angry or agitated (ears up, fur standing, teeth showing or snarling, and barking at you).
- Not to approach or disturb a dog or animal that is eating.
- Not to feed any strange or wild animal.
- If your child gets scratched or bitten by an animal, seek medical attention immediately.
- Have your dog regularly vaccinated, especially for rabies.
- Keep your dog healthy with plenty of exercise.
- If deciding to have a dog for the first time, carefully select a breed that is ideal for children. Choose a dog known for good its behavior towards children.
Another animal of concern for parents, especially in the summer months when exploring our surrounding mountains, is a bear. Utah has many black bears and parents should be aware of the animals when taking their family camping or hiking where there are higher concentration of bears.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources recommends the following actions when camping or hiking:
- Never leave food in your tent. Bears are attracted to the smell of food and might come to the tent. Instead, store food in tight containers and put it in the car, or away from the tent.
- Dispose food in bear proof-dumpsters, located at designated campsites.
- Keep your surroundings clean. Clean all tables after eating and throw away the trash.
- Report bear sightings to the campground management.
- Stay in groups when hiking and make noise as you travel through dense brush.
Unfortunately, bears sometimes still approach hikers. If this happens, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources recommends staying put and not to run. Stand your ground and let the bear go away. Make use of anything you have to fight back, if necessary.