Making Friends with Fido - 3 tips to prevent dog bites - MetroFamily Magazine
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Making Friends with Fido – 3 tips to prevent dog bites

By K9 University

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States and at least half of those bitten are children, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to the fact that children are more likely to be bitten, their injuries are often more severe.

These alarming statistics, along with a passion to support safe interactions with “man’s best friend,” prompted Angel Soriano, founder of Oklahoma City’s K9 University, to develop his specialized Dog Bite Safety training. Drawing from his 40 years of experience as a professional dog trainer and animal behavioral expert, Soriano’s Dog Bite Safety training focuses on dog bite prevention as well as respecting and understanding the nature of dogs.

“The American Veterinary Medical Association considers dog bites a public health crisis,” said Soriano. “But with education, we can help prevent dog bites, especially in children. I have grandkids, and like any grandparent or parent, I want to keep them safe and teach them the tools needed to avoid being bitten.”

While Soriano regularly provides training for organizations where employees come in contact with unknown canines — think mail carriers, utility workers, law enforcement and many others — he also wanted to help educate children in a fun way they would remember. That’s how The Adventures of Frannie and Frankie came to be: this kid-friendly video series teaches children how to avoid potentially dangerous situations with dogs, and, if a risky situation occurs, how to best react to protect themselves.

“Education is essential,” said Soriano. “There are specific behaviors a dog displays when in an aggressive state and being able to recognize those can help anyone avoid being bitten.”

Soriano offers 3 tips on how kids and families can prevent dog bites:

Be vigilant.

Adults should always keep an eye on children around dogs, says Soriano, even if the dog is well known to the family and there have been previous safe interactions.

“Most dog bites happen in a familiar location — in the home or a friend or family’s home,” explained Soriano. “They may happen in the dog’s territory and because children by nature can be unpredictable, there is always the chance that a dog could react negatively to a child’s attention.”

Soriano also emphasizes to never take an owner’s opinion of their dog at face value. Owners often only know how their dog behaves with them or their immediate family. They are unable to foresee how their dog may react or be triggered by a new environment or situation.

Know the signs.

To avoid a dog bite, it’s vital to recognize the signs of aggressive dog behavior and to teach children to view them as warnings.

“Watch for stiffness,” said Soriano. “Dogs will stiffen up or momentarily freeze when they are uncomfortable. It’s a subtle cue that lets you know it’s best to keep your distance. Also look for hackles, which is when a dog’s hair on its back is standing up. This happens when a dog is fearful or feels threatened.”

Other more obvious signs of aggressive behavior include growling, barking, lunging, snarling and baring teeth. These are all indicators that the dog is in a state of fear, frustration or agitation and may react by attacking and biting.

Be prepared.

When faced with or approached by an aggressive dog, it’s important to know what to do to stay safe. To begin, remain calm and yell commands in an authoritative voice, like, “Stop!” Avoid looking into the dog’s eyes, as this may be perceived as threatening, and don’t turn your back. Resist the urge to run and instead back away slowly.

“Dogs are hard-wired, meaning it’s their natural instinct, to chase prey,” said Soriano. “Never try to outrun a dog. By running, it triggers the dog’s innate drive as a predatory animal.”

Learn more

Soriano has spent his entire career studying canine behavior and has always had dogs in his life. He grew up watching his father informally train their beloved pets, and then when he chose to become a professional dog trainer, he had the opportunity to be mentored by some of the best trainers in the industry. Along with his work in dog bite safety training, his expertise includes search and rescue (SAR), tracking, cadaver search, personal protection, police and drug dogs and severe behavior curbing.

Since establishing K9 University in 1985, a family-owned and operated business, it has become the largest institute in the Midwest to include nearly all aspects of dog training and behavioral curbing — and employs Soriano’s patented training methods.

“The introduction of our Dog Bite Safety training and now the addition of our videos tailored to kids is an opportunity for us to continue meeting a need within communities and help individuals of all ages safely coexist with dogs,” said Soriano. “We hope schools and any organization that works with children will consider this an effective resource to help educate and protect kids.”


Editor’s note: For more information and to access the children’s video series The Adventures of Frannie and Frankie, visit The videos are ideal for use by caregivers, day cares, schools, scout groups and more to share age-appropriate education and instruction about dog behavior and how to prevent dog bites. This video series is most appropriate for kids 12 and under. And listen to Angel Soriano give more advice dogs and your family in this Raising OKC Kids podcast episode:

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