Dog Proofing Your Child?
As a parent, the idea of having a family dog that will grow up with your kids is both endearing and exciting. The bond that children share with family pets is special and typically stretches over the lifetime of the dog. You already know the basics – don’t leave young children and dogs alone together; learn about dog bite prevention; ensure your dog knows basic obedience cues. However, just because your dog loves people doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed that nothing bad will ever happen. Additionally, even if you don’t personally have a dog, most children are naturally drawn to them and chances are you will encounter a situation where your child is in the same space as a dog. Here are a few tips for teaching young children how to respect dogs and protect themselves.
Babies and toddlers have virtually no concept of personal space. You must guide them as they become naturally curious when interacting with a dog. As children gain coordination, it may be difficult for them to gently pet a dog. Instead, they may smack or grab at the dog’s face, ears, or tail. Gently guide your child’s hand to softly pet the dog’s chin, chest, or side body. Affirming this positive behavior by praising your child or even saying, “Be gentle”, helps provide a verbal cue that this is appropriate behavior. If the child occasionally tries to resort back to pulling the dog’s ears or smacking it on the snout, saying something like “Ouch! Bella doesn’t like when you hit her”, and then guiding the child again to softly pet is a simple way to redirect the behavior. Most of us have heard people discuss their dog’s relationship with their child, proudly saying how their dog lets the child smack and climb all over her. While the dog may be tolerating the behavior, we want to teach our children how to respect animals and stay safe. Dogs may tolerate that from humans in their own family but act completely different around other people. Safety, and protecting both the child and the dog, is always the number one priority.
Your child and dog may love each other, but dogs generally do not like to be hugged. Many will tolerate it but if they don’t, the child’s head and face is already dangerously close to the dog’s mouth. If your toddler is noisy at times (as most are!), you may want to encourage your dog to go to her favorite private nook for some quiet time. Noise can be stressful or scary to the dog and the initial signs of stress are not always obvious. With this strategy, your toddler can burn off energy without bothering your dog. In cases where your dog is resting quietly, avoid having your child disrupt her when she is chewing on a toy or sleeping, as she may quickly startle or snap.
Engaging your child with the family dog requires constant supervision, which can be easier said than done.
If your dog needs to get out of the house, and just be a dog, bring her to Social Pet for daycare! Our small playgroups ensure personal attention is given to each dog while providing the space for your dog romp and play with her friends. You and your child will love watching her on the webcams and receiving a texted picture each day she is here. Check us out at www.socialpethotel.com or call 704-835-1022 to schedule your pup’s next visit!