General Information

Dogs And Kids

by Valerie Dancer

Dogs and kids can live together harmoniously, if the situation is properly understood and carefully handled. Friendships between dogs and kids are both wonderful and character building for the children.

Most dog bites inflicted on kids are by the family pet, or a neighbour’s dog. It is not that the dog is aggressive, it is just that Mums and Dads do not understand that children, and particularly babies, act very differently to adults, and it is this unusual behaviour that upsets the dogs.

My own children were brought up with German Shepherds, supposedly well known as aggressive dogs. The dogs were fairly anti-social to strangers but to the family they were totally trustworthy. I like to think that it was because I taught the kids to behave properly around and towards the dogs.

When dogs and kids are living together it is the kids that need to be taught to treat all dogs with the greatest respect, and to understand that dogs are not toys. As soon as babies are crawling they need to be told to be kind to the family dog. Puppies are never too young to learn, neither are babies. If you have just acquired a new puppy do not let it chew you or play nip, good training for when it is a fully grown dog.

Dogs protect all things that they care about, whether that be the house, their dinner, the car, their bed, kids have to understand to leave dogs alone at certain times or certain places. Some dogs are, by nature, herding dogs, so these may chase a child if it runs away. This could excite the dog to attack.

Some dogs would get defensive if they are cornered or have some one standing over them. Kids should be taught to not scream, cuddle the dog tightly or pinch them. It should be remembered that as a dog gets older it could become less tolerant, so the family dog that has always been so good with the kids suddenly nips a child. Old dogs get deaf so cannot hear a child approaching, so may nip out of surprise. It is not the dog’s fault!

Kids need to be told:

  • To never approach a strange dog, without asking permission. If the dog is out without it’s owner leave it alone.
  • To always approach in a steady quiet manor.
  • No teasing, yelling, hugging, pinching, pulling or chasing.
  • Always leave mothers with young alone.
  • Never try to stop a dogfight!
  • If you are approached by a strange dog, stand still; let the dog sniff you, no wriggling fingers, put them in your pocket if you have one.
  • Do not stare at the dog, and never run away.
  • If the dog is barking or growling, slowly walk away, keeping the dog in view.

Be sure your kids understand the difference between your own dog and a strange dog.

It is wise to never leave a baby or very young children alone together, no matter how well you think you know the dog.

This all sounds a little forbidding but dogs and kids really can have lots of fun together.

About The Author: I have owned dogs for 42 years. Learning to train from my mother who trained to county level. Over the years I have found that the old ways of training are not always the best, that praise is the best form of training, and the younger the dog, the easier it is to train.

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