Dogs, Kids, and Dog Bite Preventionby Coach Lilly 8.25.17
Last month on the blog we talked about tips for helping your dog socialize with other dogs, people, and kids. When dogs and kids get together, it can be fun and rewarding if everything goes well, and disastrous if something goes wrong. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year. Children are the most likely to be the victims as well as the most likely to be seriously injured by a bite. These are sobering facts, but the good news is that dog bites can be prevented. There are things that dog owners can do to ensure that encounters between dogs and children are successful. Many of these things are important when introducing your dog into any social situation. Here is a closer look at helping your dog get along with kids.
Some breeds of dogs are naturally more patient around children. But even naturally calm breeds still need basic training and good experiences with kids so that they react well to these situations. Kids love puppies, but they need to stay calm around puppies because puppies are at a formative age. Your dog’s experiences with kids as a puppy play a role in how comfortable they are around children in the future.
Supervision is super important when letting dogs and kids play together. But professional dog trainer Robin Bennett warns dog owners that supervision alone isn’t enough. Dog owners need to know what they should be watching out for. In an article titled “Why Supervising Dogs and Kids Doesn’t Work,” Bennett says that although it is common sense that children and dogs need to be supervised when they are together, the overwhelming majority of dog bite cases happen when the parent was standing close by to the child that was bitten.
Parents and dog owners need to get better at reading the body language that dogs use when they are uncomfortable. A dog that is feeling aggressive could try to make himself appear bigger, while a dog that is feeling anxious or scared could try to make himself seem smaller. If you see a dog using this kind of body language, give the dog his space. Dogs may bite when they are stressed out and feel that they are not able to escape the situation that is distressing them. If your dog moves away from the child, let him move away, and don’t let the child follow him.
Dog Toys and Kids Toys
One tip for letting dogs and kids play together is to make sure that their toys don’t get mixed up! Children need to learn not to take toys away from a dog. Games like tug-of-war can be a lot of fun for kids and dogs, but make sure that the games don’t get too rowdy or out of hand. Again, watch the dog’s body language. You can get your dog some toys of his own at DoggieNation.com.
Learning more about dog bite prevention and socialization is part of being a responsible dog owner. Paying attention to training and dog body language will make a big difference in the quality of encounters between dogs and kids.