Dogs and Children


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‘Childproofing’ and Harm Avoidance


I have recently come across some great resources for educating your young family about being around dogs. Though the sobering statistics show that a high proportion of dog bites happen from the family pet, there is equally evidence that some sort of ‘provocation’ initiated the response.

I, myself, was bitten close to the eye by our family pet at an early age (and still bear a small scare) but an unintentional scare had caused the response while William was feeding and a very contrite dog…and child, resulted.

Under our ‘Rescue Me!’ tab you will find ‘Dog Gone Crazy’, a really neat range of innovative resources to assist you teach your children how to act around both the family dog and pick the body language signs of other dogs.

There is also a great comforting resource ‘Good Dog, Happy Baby’ there to help allay the anxiety of expectant parents with a newborns arrival and introduction to the much loved family pet. The author, Mike Wombacher, outlines the most common, and easily overlooked, precautions and summarized below are a few key pointers that you can implement to safeguard our children’s interactions with dogs.

First, and perhaps of greatest consequence, never, under any circumstances, for any reason leave any child under ten unsupervised with any dog, ever, period
The truth is that neither party is trustworthy and such permissiveness is the leading cause dog/child disasters.

Second, teach your child, through ample supervised interactions, how to appropriately touch a dog. Teach them not to pull tails, poke around in ears or eyes, ride the dog or torment the pet in any of the endless ways kids seem capable of contriving. At the same time, teach your dog to be tolerant of childlike handling without biting and this way you work in safeguards from both ends.

Third, use caution when approaching strange dogs. Never approach a dog with no owner present. If the owner is present, ask permission to touch the dog and observe both dog and owner. If the owner seems hesitant, but says yes, probably best to pass on the interaction. If the dog shows no overt signs of friendliness – wagging tail and a bright eyed look – ditto. Obviously, if the owner says “my dog isn’t friendly,” pass. If the dog seems friendly enough, have your child approach the dog halfway, hold a closed hand out and allow the dog to come to him or her. In other words, be sure the dog is interested. Don’t impose an interaction. When actually petting the dog, start under the chin and avoid petting over the head and hugging. Best not get too personal too fast.

Fourth, and along a slightly different track, if you have a dog and are expecting your first child, think carefully about the changes you are going to have to implement in your dog’s life because of the arrival of your baby and implement those changes now. The singularly worst thing you can do is make those changes after baby arrives, thus teaching your dog that the arrival of the child meant all kinds of new restrictions in its life. If you want to set up a jealous, competitive dynamic between your child and your dog, that’s the best way to do it.

Of course, there are many other precautions we can take, but these are the major ones that, if diligently applied, would dramatically reduce the unpleasant statistics. So please take note, use common sense and have a great time raising your child in the safe and friendly company of dogs.

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Authorized for re-posting by Richard Cox at Wandering Waldo COPYRIGHT 2014