An animal charity is campaigning to keep children safe and dogs happy.

The RSPCA has produced advice for parents and children to help make sure both children and dogs spend their summer safely.

According to the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre, in the 12 months to January 2014, the age group with the highest number of hospital admission for dog bites was children between 0-9 years old.

Data also revealed young children are more likely to be bitten by a family dog than by a dog they don’t know.

The RSPCA is now working with internationally acclaimed vet and animal behaviour specialist Sophia Yin to launch materials aimed at teaching children how they should and should not interact with dogs.

Sam Gaines, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA said: “As a mother and dog owner myself, it is clear children and dogs can be really great friends and dogs can help children develop kindness, understanding and respect for living things. Having a dog as a friend can improve a child’s social skills with people and caring for a pet can encourage responsibility.”

“However, it is important parents teach children how to interact with dogs in a safe way and understand and recognise dog behaviour so they can keep both happy, safe and relaxed,” she added.

The RSPCA has put together the Six Golden Rules for keeping kids safe and dogs happy this summer.  

●     Make sure your child is never left alone in the same room as a dog, including your own dog

●     Do not approach dogs if they are eating or have food; have a toy or something else they really like; if they are sleeping or on their bed; are sick, sleeping, in pain or tired

●     Remind your child to be kind, gentle and polite to their pets

●     Teach your children to play nicely with your dog, by encouraging them to teach fun tricks like shaking a paw, playing dead and rolling over

●     Always supervise your child when they are with your dog, and look for signs the dog might be feeling uncomfortable, such as yawning, lip licking or avoiding eye contact

●     Teach your child not to approach an unfamiliar dog or one that you don’t know to be friendly towards children.

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