Safety around animals

A love for animals while staying safe

You may love animals and always want to play with them, as animals can be great fun and some love to be petted and to play games. But it is important to remember not all animals want to play or be touched. You need to always be safe around animals both indoors and outdoors.

No animal is the same and it is important to remember what 1 animal likes another may not. However all animals need to be treated with kindness, love and respect at all times, again this will differ depending on the animal and the situation.

Animals especially dogs can be great companions who will love you as much as you love them, but it is important to learn, just like you they have different moods such as playful, tired, scared, hungry and many more. You need to recognise their different moods to know how you should act/play with them.

Top tips on animal safety

There are several things you can do when stroking or playing with pets to make sure you stay safe.

  1. Avoid the face and head area when petting dogs and cats.  You can stroke along the neck, back, and sides.  Dogs like to have belly rubs, unlike cats who may bite or scratch when rubbed on the belly.
  2. Leave animals alone when they are eating, sleeping, chewing on a toy, or caring for their babies. They may get protective over these things.
  3. Pay attention to warning signs, if an animal is growling (Dog) or hissing (Cat) at you this means that they want to be left alone and that they do not like what you are doing.
  4. Animals may be startled by loud and high-pitched screams or noises, also by any sudden movements.
  5. Never approach an animal you do not know.  Animals in cars and in their gardens may behave aggressive and territorial, this could lead them to bite if they are territorial. You should always ask permission from an animal’s owner before approaching and petting the animal. Stay calm and approach them in a C shape and stand slightly to the side allowing the Dog to smell you before you stroke him/her.
  6. Never approach an animal that appears injured or sick. Get a grown-up who will be able to contact the RSPCA or a vet to come and collect the inured animal.
  7. Never approach stray or wild animals. These are not always use to human interaction and could become scared if you approach them.
  8. Do not run when approached by a strange dog, as running may provoke the dog to chase you. You should freeze and act like a ‘tree’ and stand still and stare straight ahead. If you are sitting or get knocked to the ground you need to act like a ‘rock’ by curling up in a ball keeping your hands over your ears.
  9. If you want to help care and take responsibility for an animal and you help with cleaning animal cages, litter boxes, or cleaning up the garden after a dog you should wear rubber gloves and always wash your hands when done.
  10. Do not play with an animals food or water bowls. Food bowls and litter boxes should be out of reach of babies and toddlers.

Playing safely with pets

Keeping yourself and your pet safe and happy during playtime is simple when you remember some important things to do and not to do.

Do not get too physical 
You should remember a pet especially dogs are not there to climb on, you should never play on your dog or climb on their back.
Remember you need to always be kind to pets, just like you, they do not like to be punched, pinched, kicked or slapped. This will make your pet very sad and scared, so never hurt your pet during play.

Basic safety rules 
When playing with a pet, although it can be fun you need to be calm, this means not to jump around and no screaming to get your animal’s attention. This is annoying and stressful to your pet.
You should never pull at a dog’s or cat’s tail, yank their paws or sneak up behind them. These could cause your pet to take a nip at you.
Never corner a pet or roughly handle them, they will not like this and may become defensive and this could lead them to growl or hiss and they could then bite you.

Play fetch with 2 balls 
Having 2 balls means you never have to put your hand near your pets mouth, as soon as your dog fetches and brings back the ball show them the 2nd ball before throwing it. Your dog will then drop the ball he just fetched and go to get the new 1. You can then safely pick up the ball ready to throw it again.

Play games like hide and seek 
Playing games such as tag can cause your dog to accidentally nip as they love to chase, instead play a game of hide and seek. You can hide in fairly easy places at first and then you call your dog to come and find you.

Animal toys
Animals love to play with all kinds of toys especially when they can chase, fetch and catch different things. If play becomes too rough you should also put the toy down and stop playing until your pet has calmed down. If a toy is broken you should no longer play with this as it can hurt your pet.


Using the following 7 tips can help to keep you safe around dogs while ensuring you are not putting any stress on any dog.

D – Do not tease
This can make your dog feel frustrated or angry which can lead to them biting.

O – Only pet with permission
You must always ask the dog’s owner if you can pet the animal.

G – Give them space
You might love to cuddle and always be with your dog, however they need their own space, sometimes a dog might not want to be cuddled as it can make it feel trapped which could scare your dog.

S – Slow Down
Dogs like to chase, however this can lead to them accidentally biting you. You should never run to or from a dog as you do not want to encourage it to chase you.

A – Always Get Help
If you see a dog that looks hurt or your dog has an injury, you should always seek help from a grown-up, as they will know how to help the dog in the best way. You do not want to hurt it more by accident or scare it.

F – Fingers together
When feeding your dog a treat you should always put the treat in the palm of your hand while keeping your fingers and thumb close together.

E – Even Good Dogs Can Bite
Always avoid anything which might frighten or upset your dog, such as backing them up in a corner, pulling their ears, tail or fur. Remember you should always be kind to dogs.

Outdoor animals

When you go outside there is a world full of so many different and amazing animals from squirrels climbing trees, birds flying in the sky, rabbits hopping between the bushes, foxes running and hedgehogs looking for food. There are also badgers, moles, owls all of which come out at night time.

To keep safe around wild animals the number 1 rule is do not try to touch them, they are wild animals that are not like pets, they do not like or understand human intercation.

If you see an injured animal you should tell a grown-up who will know what to do and who to contact to come and rescue the animal.