Dogs and kids safety
Tips for parents
Having a pet can be great fun for children. Pets teach kids responsibility and help them to learn empathy. Children and dogs are not always going to start off with a wonderful friendship. Parents must be willing to teach the dog and the child what behaviour is acceptable so that they can play together in a happy and safe way. One of the first steps in protecting your children is to get training for your dog and then teach your children the tips below. These tips will help your child enjoy their dog and stay safe with other dogs.
Safe play with puppies
Puppies can be fragile. If a puppy gets frightened or injured by a child, who only wants to pick it up or hug it, the puppy might bite. Puppies also have sharp teeth and claws, which could easily injure a child during rough play. Puppies also tend to jump on children and knock them down. Parents must closely supervise all interactions between children and puppies to make sure no one is injured.
If a child wants to hold a puppy, it is safer for the child and the puppy if the child is sitting down as a puppy can easily fall out of the child’s arms and be injured. Let your child give your puppy a toy while they hold it. If your puppy is teething it will chew on everything so giving the puppy a toy will divert the puppy’s teeth away from your child. This will help teach the puppy that being held is a pleasant experience.
For larger dogs, have your child sit in your lap and let the dog approach you both. This way you are there to teach your child to pat your dog gently and also control your dog.
Your children will want to show affection to your dog by patting it, however, your dog may see this as threatening behaviour. You should encourage children to pat dogs under the chin instead of hugging or reaching over its head. This way, the dog can see the child and is less likely to be frightened.
When giving your dog a treat, teach your child to hold the treat in an open hand instead of their fingers. For the first few times, you should place your hand under your child’s to guide them. This will avoid your dog snapping at the food and your child getting frightened.
Children move very quickly and tend to squeal and yell. Dogs see these actions as ‘prey actions’ and your dog might respond to the child’s behaviour by chasing, biting and jumping on them. You must teach your child to play quietly around your dog but also teach your dog what behaviour is acceptable. By closely supervising children and dogs, you can ensure that everyone safely enjoys their time together.
Teaching your dog
Socialising your dog will help it to be calm and confident in all situations. Make sure your dog gets all the exercise he/she needs and don’t leave him/her alone for long periods of time. Train your dog so that they know how to behave and watch them closely in strange situations. Don’t play rough or aggressive games with your dog because dogs don’t distinguish between games and reality.
Teaching your child
Children are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks and are more likely to be bitten than adults. Remember to teach your child the following:
- Not to look a dog in the eye (a dog can see this as threatening behaviour)
- Stay away from strange dogs
- If a strange dog approaches, stand still with your arms at your side and don’t run or scream
- Before approaching a dog, always ask the owner if you can pat them
- Before patting a dog, make sure the dog has seen you
- Don’t disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping or has puppies
- If a dog attacks you, give them your jumper, bike or bag to chew on then slowly back away until you can get to safety
- If a dog knocks you down, roll into a ball, whilst protecting your face, and lie still until the dog goes away.