(WYTV) – Summertime’s here, that’s trips to the park, time outdoors, and more chances your child may run across an unfamiliar dog.

“51% of dog bites in this country are to children and the most common age bracket is between five and eight years old,” said Jenny Falvey.

Jenny Falvey owns the Poland-based dog training center Dogsmartz Unleashed. She’s also a certified canine behavior consultant.

“Many of those dog bites can be prevented by us teaching children about hot to behave around dogs safely and how to interact with them safely and respectfully,” she said.

Falvey says lots of bites occur with familiar dogs, in the home or a relatives home.

One way to prevent these incidents, teach kids to respect dogs. Don’t climb on the dog, pull at their limbs, ears, or tail. Be especially gentle with older dogs, they’re more likely to be less tolerant and more easily hurt. Never sneak up on a dog or approach a chained or tethered dog.

“That dog can become very threatened with the approach of an individual to their area and the dog is trapped and can not get away,” Falvey continued.

Uncomfortable Dogs will communicate through body language. Backing away or growling are obvious warning signs.

Learning how to interpret body language telling you not to engage is also important to avoid negative interactions.

“If a dog stiffens. So their face becomes very rigid, their ears perk up, their body becomes very stiff, their tail becomes very stiff, that’s a sign to back away from that dog,” Falvey said.

When petting a dog, teach kids to pet on the side, not the face and neck. And when meeting a NEW dog, teach your kids to ALWAYS ask permission.

“The first thing is to step back, stay a few feet back and observe the dog first. Ask the owner if it is ok to pet and then let the dog come to you. You can keep your hand down near your side, a closed fist or a flat hand against your leg is safe for them to come up and sniff to make sure the dog wants to engage,” said Falvey.

Sadly, encounters with aggressive dogs do happen. Falvey says in those instances they teach kids to be like a tree.

“We teach children to stand still and to be a tree. So put their arms down, cupped in front of them, and stare at their toes so they are still. Often times the dog will move away and once the dog moves away they should call for help. Not to run because running can trigger a dogs chase response, for children and adults,” Falvey finished.