Dogs & Kids: Happy Together
Dogs and kids, it's a combination that at it's best can be the stuff of childhood dreams. At it's worst, it can be a source of heartache and pain and even injury. How can you ensure that your child and Man's Best Friend have a loving and safe relationship? Mostly, it's the responsibility of the adults of the house to teach toddlers and even older children that a dog is not a toy. It's a living, breathing creature that feels pain, shame and humiliation as much as love, pride and happiness. A dog that bites a child may only be defending itself the only way it knows how. But to minimize ever having to worry about a parent's worst nightmare, family animal psychologist, Larry Lachman, M.S., offers the following advice:
SAFETY PREVENTION TIPS TO TEACH YOUR CHILD:
- Do NOT reach for a dog's head the first time they meet a dog nor excessively rough house around their own dog's head and face.
- Do NOT look a dog straight in the eyes, which could be seen as a threat or challenge by the dog.
- Do NOT run up frantically to a dog, which may react fearfully and defend itself or jump and bite at the child's face.
- Do NOT scream loudly at a dog, which could stress a dog or startle it, causing an aggressive response.
- Do NOT bother the dog while it is eating or chewing on a chew toy, which could trigger an aggressive guarding response, especially if the child is under seven years of age, where he/she is looked at by the dog as a competing animal in the pack.
- Do NOT hit, kick, slap, ride, or tease the dog in any manner.
- Do NOT leave the child and dog alone until the child is older than 7, and can control its impulses.
Adults Should Take The Time...
- To show the child HOW TO POSITIVELY interact and pet the dog under direct supervision.
- To show the child how to be a junior dog trainer, and get the dog to sit with a treat, under parental supervision.
- To only give the dog attention when the child is also receiving attention so the dog makes a better association with the child.
Following these tips will minimize conflict and teach your child to respect your dog and treat her as a member of the family.
Larry Lachman, M.S, M.A., is a member of the Animal Behavior Society, the American Psychological Association and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Article written by:
Gene R. Sower
Editor, DOG BYTES Newsletter