Keeping children safe around dogs
Keeping children safe around dogs is a topic that we really do need to improve our knowledge on. So many dog bites on children happen when some very basic rules are broken. With this in mind I thought I would run through some of the key ways that you can avoid running into problems with your dog and young children.
The more a dog believes that they are the pack leader the less tolerant they will be of all the things I mention below. So many bites revolve around space being invaded and food, and the more you have trained your dog to understand their position in the pack, the more your dog will relax and let people get away with breaking the pack rules a little. Of course every dog is different so you really do need to be careful, as some are far more dominant and very intolerant of people breaking their rules.
Be very careful approaching a strange dog. It is because every dog is so different that you need to be so aware. Let’s look at the lovely big dog at the café, calmly sitting there with their owner. The chances are, you can’t read their body language that says don’t pat me or I’ll bite you, and there may be no warning if you don’t recognise their freeze pose.
Ahhh, look at the cute doggie…
When a dog is tied up at the shops, unable to get away, then it is always safest to stay well away from them. Personally, I would never leave my dogs tied up outside the shops. My dogs are fantastic but there are far too many people I do not trust. I owe it to my dogs to keep them safe. Dogs only have a few options of what they can do when tied up and if their option to run away has been removed then they may well be forced to resort to fight (with a quick snap) if they are scared or feel threatened when some stranger moves in for a big pat.
The growling dog
If a dog growls then it is a good time to focus on looking around at what was making the dog upset and learning from the situation. The chances are a child was probably thinking of coming into the dog’s space or up to some mischief and the dog is simply saying leave me alone. If your dog is warning with a growl it is beneficial in many ways since it gives you a chance to respond, learn and avoid those situations next time. It’s also an early warning device that gives you time, as a parent, to get your child safely out of the dog’s space.
Over confident children
The over confident children really need to be watched. This is especially true of children who are noisy, excitable and enjoy saying hello to dogs they do not know. The secret is to stay calm and stand a little way off then check with the owner before meeting.
If your child has food and you are unsure of how your dog may react then keep them apart until they have finished, it is not worth the risk. So many accidents happen when dogs, food and children mix, unsupervised. It is a recipe-for-disaster so keep them apart unless you are certain of how your dogs will behave.
Let sleeping dogs lie
“Let sleeping dogs lie” is one of the oldest of all dog sayings yet there is far greater truth in the words than most people realise. All dogs should be given a safe place where they know they are safe from being disturbed but one of the most important rules is also closely connected to this famous saying. Here is the one piece of advice I suggest you never forget:
If you want to greet a dog in a way that is safest then you should call the dog over to you, and only if they come to you can you stroke them. If they do not, leave them alone. Respect them and their wishes and let sleeping dogs lie.
Please share this with as many friends as possible. The consequences of not being careful and aware are just too horrible.
If you have a dog and want to help ensure that nothing dangerous happens between your dog and your kids, I want to encourage you to check out my program, The Dog Calming Code.
This program will teach you how to get your dog to relax and listen to you when it matters most!
Or, if you have a puppy, I encourage you to get started with my Puppy Coach training program!