You can’t train every single kid, and one of the biggest mistakes that we can make as dog owners is to assume that all parents have trained their kids how to properly behave around dogs. It is a common assumption that can often lead to dangerous outcomes. Instead, we need to focus on training our dogs to be bulletproof around kids. We can train our dogs, but we don’t have the ability to train every single kid out there.
Make your dog bulletproof around kids.
To make your dog bulletproof around children, you need to get him accustomed to how children act and behave. One way to do that is to play “Simon Says.” The child pets the dog every time the adult gives the dog a treat, allowing the dog to get used to being touched by the child. Another thing you can do as an adult is act in a similar manner as a child would. To do this, slowly allow yourself to get a little more playful while interacting with your dog—tug on toys, hug your dog, lay on your dog, dress up your dog, and give your dog lots of treats. Surround your dog with noisy kids, perhaps visiting a playground, while giving treats to get him used to that type of environment. Of course, remember to do this in moderation as to ensure your dog isn’t put into a position that will make him uncomfortable.
Educate your children.
As a parent, even if you do not have a dog in your house, you need to educate your child about dogs. It is important to teach children to recognize different forms of body language. Instruct them on how to say “hi” to a dog and how to pet a dog the safe way. As most children get excited when they see animals, it is crucial to teach them not to run up to unknown dogs or enter someone’s property if that person has a strange dog. Kids also need to know what to do if they are being chased by a dog.
Build a stronger bond between your dog and your child.
Encourage your child to train your dog with you. Training helps the dog understand that the child is also part of the family and needs to be taken seriously. It can also help your child feel like he or she has control of the dog and can give him direction when needed.
Never leave a dog unattended with a child.
Do not leave small children alone with a dog, as accidents can occur at any moment. If an adult is not there to read the dog’s behavior, a child could push the dog too far, causing the dog to play rougher than he understands and/or potentially hurt the child. So much can happen that you really should not take the risk.
Alyona DelaCoeur is the personality behind WhyDoesMyDog.com, a video-driven website devoted to delivering bite-sized tips and techniques, to offer her professional expertise on the importance of kid and dog safety.
Each month, this column is written by a different trainer or dog professional. If you’d like to contribute, contact Editor@BayWoof.com
Main article photo by: Jesse Garboden-Creative Commons