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Kids and Dogs: Safety Tips

When a dog bites a kid, it's usually one the pup knows. The best prevention: supervision. Even the most sweet-natured pooch can be provoked. Beyond that, there's plenty you can teach your child about staying safe around Spot. Some basics, from dog trainer Karen Peak, creator of Safekidssafedogs.com:

Be calm around canines. No jumping, screaming, or, of course, yanking tails, pulling fur, or poking eyes.

Nix hugs -- or kisses. Hounds don't like them. But they do like being gently stroked on the back or the side. One spot to avoid: The top of the head -- even a small hand looming above can feel threatening to a dog.

Never sneak up on a pup. Approach from the side.

Leave sleeping (or eating) dogs alone. They're likely to snap if bothered.

Ask the owner before petting a dog you don't know. If he says it's okay, have your kid hand you anything she might be holding (especially if it's edible!). Then, if the dog is calm, tell her to make a fist, palm down (so her fingers are out of the way if the dog nips). If the dog comes forward, tail wagging, it's okay to pet it.

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