The following guest post was written by Sarah Hoth, owner of The Persuaded Pooch.
As a dog-lover, you would like to consider your dog to be a healthy, happy and well-behaved member of your family. Achieving this goal means that keeping your children safe around the family dog and teaching them how to interact safely together are of utmost importance. There are a few key components to keeping the peace in your home where children and dogs are concerned.
Supervision and Managing the Space
An important and easy part of keeping your kids safe around dogs is to set rules and boundaries in the home. The number one rule in the home should be that dogs and small children are never left unsupervised together.
If you are unable to supervise the interaction, the next best option is to use management tools, like baby gates, crates or a leash tether to create boundaries for your dog to prevent unwanted access the children. If you have a very active dog, be sure to give him something to entertain himself while restricted, like a stuffed Kong toy or long-lasting chew bone.
Training foundation manners in your dog are essential when it comes to child safety. A dog that jumps on people, pushes past you through an open door, bolts out of the car and chews on baby’s toys not only endangers their own life, but also creates a safety risk for your family and children.
Teaching your dog polite manners, like Sit, Stay, Wait, Leave It and greeting people politely will teach your dog to respect everyone in the household, their activities and belongings. A well-run basic obedience group class can help with teaching your dog these imperative skills. As an alternative, view these short videos from the industry’s top respected trainers on how to train each behavior using positive reinforcement methods:
Sit – Andrea Arden
Stay – Jo Anne Basinger
Wait at the Door – Mikkel Becker
Leave It – Victoria Stilwell
Polite Greetings – Jo Anne Basinger
Preventing Dog Bites
Avoiding common mistakes while interacting with dogs will help keep your children safe by potentially preventing dog bites. Mistakes often made by children include hugging dogs, hovering over them and pulling on their tails or ears. Unlike humans, dogs do not naturally enjoy being hugged. Any movement over a dog’s head or around their back might be interpreted as threatening or overwhelming. And although it might be tempting to tug at a dog’s tail or ears, many dogs are sensitive about these areas and may not be completely comfortable with it.
A more appropriate approach is to bend down at the knees (instead of at the waist) and, at a sideways angle, calmly pet a dog on their chest or under their chin. Always require that children ask the owner of the dog first (if not their own dog) if they can pet the dog. Just because a dog looks friendly, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are comfortable being petted by strangers.
Other common mistakes made with dogs involve their food and their rest time. It is wise to tell children to avoid approaching a dog while eating or attempt to take away their food toys. Another hard and fast rule of thumb is “let sleeping dogs lie.” Dogs, like humans, can be easily startled out of sleep. A dog that is awoken suddenly – by an unexpected touch or loud noise – may be disoriented, out of focus or a little apprehensive about the sudden change in their environment and may react unfavorably.
Dogs can add so much to your home and family life. But keeping your children safe is the number one priority. Dog management, training and preventing dog bites can help to ensure that your children will be able to experience the pure joy that can come from having a dog in your family for many, many years.
Lastly, here are some wonderful resources that will help you to teach your children how to interact appropriately and safely with dogs in your home, as well as with other dogs.
Visit Webster Groves Patch to read the guest post I wrote for The Persuaded Pooch: “10 Ways To Include Your Dog In Daily Activities.”Google+