When you are rescuing a dog and there are kids present in the family, or even friends and relatives that plan to visit, there are several things you should consider as you introduce dogs and children. Additionally, there are several interactions you should discourage and curb when it comes to kids and their interaction with dogs. This is for the safety of children and dogs a like.
Many of these things may seem like a given, but for each and every dog owner and adopter there are always lessons that can be learned to reduce stress on a dog, and unwanted situations within the family.
These 7 simply reminders can help keep kids safe and dogs comfortable in child/dog interactions:
1. Children should not put their hands in a dog’s food bowl, or play in their food, nor tease a dog with food, bones, or toys.
2. Pulling an item out of the mouth of a dog should be avoided. If they are chewing on something that is not there, try a drop it command, and if that is not working try using a higher value treat to distract the dog from the object it should not be chewing on and redirect to a more appropriate object.
3. Close contact with a new rescue or unfamiliar dog should be monitored. Children and adults should not put faces up close into the face of dogs, pull or grab dogs’ ears or tails, or yank paws.
4. Climbing on or over dogs or laying on top of dogs can cause stress to the animal and stress reactions. Be gentle when petting dogs and approaching them.
5. While dogs may look cuddly and like they want to be hugged, avoid hugging and pulling a dog tightly to you, it may cause the dog stress that makes it want to get away and the dog may react to let you know it is uncomfortable.
6. Avoid yelling, screaming, and loud noises around a dog. The stress of yelling can cause a dog to react to your stress and anxiety. Commands do not have to be loud and angry to be effective.
7. When teaching your dog commands, use a firm voice, but not a loud, angry, or pitchy scream to get a dog to behave. Treats and rewards will help your dog be at ease with learning commands. This should be practiced by adults, before having children mimic this. Make sure a dog is comfortable with commands before turning over the training to a child.
Please watch this dog bite prevention video – the perspective of your children and the dogs can be very different. It’s important to make sure to supervise interactions and look for signs a dog is giving that it is not enjoying certain types of attention.
In our next blog post we will talk more about signs of stress with dogs and toddlers