Children And Dogs : Teaching Our Children To Properly And Safely Interact With Dogs

Children And Dogs : Teaching Our Children To Properly And Safely Interact With Dogs

  • October 14, 2017
  •   459

Children love dogs, and dogs usually love children. They are often the best of friends and are usually inseparable. Dogs get highly attached to ‘their’ kids, and often they will assume the role of guardian and protector, and they take their job very seriously. It almost seems as if the dogs can sense that children need extra special care, attention, patience and tolerance. Dogs will often put up with a lot more from a child than they will from an adult, or another dog. Dogs and kids are a natural, healthy and excellent mix.

On the other hand, dogs and children can be a devastating and dangerous mix. If the dog hasn’t interacted with children much, then kids can make them very nervous, defensive and frustrated. If the child hasn’t been taught to properly interact with dogs, they can be obnoxious, intrusive and invading. Kids are loud, they lack respect for the dog’s personal space, they pull and tug on hair and fur, they poke invading fingers into ears and eyes and they climb all over dogs; They hug and squeeze and squish and push and pull the dogs around and they often don’t understand dog communication and are unable to recognize the warning signals that the dog displays. This, combined with a lack of proper parental supervision, often results in a disastrous situation in which the child gets bitten, sometimes causing severe and permanent damage, and the dog gets blamed for it. All too often, this unfortunate animal ends up getting blamed for the whole situation, and is often turned into the pound, where it is nearly impossible for them to get adopted into a new home, or they are put to sleep for being “unpredictable” and “vicious” when in reality, the dog is not at fault at all.

Children need to be taught to properly interact with the dog and to respect when the dog has had enough. Children and dogs should never be left alone together without supervision, especially young children and toddlers, even if you trust them both and they are the best of friends. There are just too many things that can happen accidentally. Both the child and the dog will need training on how to interact with each other. There should be clear and established rules and boundaries for both of them.

  • The dog should have a bed or crate that is off limits to the child. This gives the dog an area that they can go lay down and relax and not be disturbed. This will help them feel secure and give them an ‘escape’ if they get overwhelmed or frustrated.
  • Children should be taught not to go around the dog’s food bowl. Food aggression is a serious issue that should immediately be treated by a professional. There is just too much of a risk to the child which can easily be avoided by making the food bowl off limits. Children should still be encouraged to be involved in the food preparation process, and may initially feed the dog while the dog sits calmly and quietly waiting a few feet away.
  • Children should be taught that it is NOT okay to poke or prod at the dog, pull it’s hair or climb on it. They should also learn to respect the dog’s personal space and to keep their face away from the dog’s mouth.
  • Dog toys, bones and treats can sometimes cause a problem if the dog is possessive and guards his toys. A child can get snapped at or bitten if they wander too close to a coveted bone. Seek help for food aggression immediately.
  • Never allow a child to take the dog for a walk by themselves. There are way too many risk factors to allow them to go unsupervised. A dog can easily pull a child over or drag them on the ground if they decide to case something, seriously injuring themselves and the child, especially if the dog runs into traffic.
  • Both children and dogs love to run, and properly supervised, this can be a great exercise for both. But running and screaming can cause a lot of excitement with a high, intense energy level and this can cause many dogs to nip at the children, especially if it is a herding breed, or the dogs can be triggered into a predatory behavior

With these few basic rules, kids and dogs can happily live their lives together and be the best of friends. A little time and effort put into training both the child and the dog can allow them to safely interact and play together for days on end. Teaching your child how to understand dog body language and how to properly communicate with a dog, and teaching them how to understand what the dog is trying to express to them, is also a great way to avoid many problems that can arise.

Read more: harstinedogbehaviorcenter


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