Dog daze: Playing it safe around children

PUBLISHED: 15:01 18 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:59 20 February 2013

Dog daze: Playing it safe around children

Dog daze: Playing it safe around children

Our dog expert Sophia Taylor has some words of advice on keeping children and dogs safe together

Our dog expert Sophia Taylor has some words of advice on keeping children and dogs safe together

There is no doubt that strong bonds can form between children and dogs and that having any pet, especially a dog, in the family helps towards teaching children about the responsibility of caring for a pet and also teaches them about death when the dog reaches the end of its days.
We read in the papers, magazines or on the internet or hear on the radio and television about dogs who have attacked children and caused severe injuries or even death. However, owning a dog in a family with children can be rewarding, so this month I would like to give you some suggestions on keeping children and dogs happily living together in safety.
There are no guarantees that the suggestions will prevent any problems and therefore common sense must prevail and professional advice sought if needed, as all dogs are different and so are peoples circumstances.
Firstly, if you are thinking of starting a family then maybe it would be a good idea to wait until you have had the baby and got settled into your new routine before embarking on a four legged bundle of mischief. I say this as having a baby is, I am told, quite tiring and having a puppy can also be tiring and demanding. The last thing anyone wants is a young dog ending up in rescue because the owner cannot cope with both baby and puppy.
So think long and hard.
For those of you with dogs already or thinking of owning a dog here are some helpful suggestions.

  • Do not leave children under the age of 12 unsupervised with any dog.

  • Teach your children to always ASK the dog owner if they may fuss the dog rather than just go up and touch it without permission. This is because dogs are easily startled and may give a nip. Even if you own a dog, children need to be aware that not all dogs are friendly. Also not all dogs like being hugged and fussed.
    If the owner says no to your request to fuss the dog, then accept this answer as they will have their reasons.

  • When dogs are asleep or resting, leave them alone and when the dog is playing with a toy or eating a chew, do not try to remove the article.

  • If holding a party for children, it may be an idea to keep the family dog in a different room with its own space away from the excitable youngsters.

  • If you see a dog tied up outside a shop or in a car with the window open, however tempting, avoid going up and making a fuss. The dog maybe unfriendly or simply under the weather on this particular day and growl or bite. Dogs that are tied up/in a confined space or in a corner are unable to get away so can react if they feel threatened.

  • Avoid rough and tumble games with dogs as this can tip over to more boisterous play and even aggressive behaviours.

  • Give dogs space if they back away. The dog is clearly saying keep out of my space.

  • Always take a puppy/dog to good socialisation classes and obedience classes so that they have the best start in life and ask the trainer if it would be okay for your child or children to take part. At On The Scent we encourage children to be involved in the training and many go on to join our agility classes.

  • Watch the Kennel Club, Safe and Sound DVD on the Kennel Club website.It is free.

If a dog off lead approaches you and your children, stand still like a tree with your hands in your pockets or folded in front of you. Stand quietly and do not make eye contact with the dog. I would also suggest that you refrain from running away as the dog may see this as a game of chase.
If the dog tries to jump up at you, try turning your back on the dog.

Many families have dogs and thoroughly enjoy the companionship, loyalty and fun to be had and there are many different breeds and types of dogs to suit everyone.
Choose the right dog carefully and do your research as this will save a lot of heartache which can be caused by simply choosing the wrong dog for the time and commitment you have available.
These suggestions will hopefully go some way to help keep your children safe. However, there are several websites with other excellent tips on keeping children and dogs safe together and these may be found by typing into Google Dogs and Children or by logging on to my website and clicking on the Training Tips tab.
Keep safe and have fun.

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