I remember the first time I moved out of my parents’ house and was hit with an odd and strange feeling that I had never experienced in my life before. There were no sounds of nails ricocheting off the kitchen floor, no wiping down my jacket from fur before leaving the house, and no one nudging closer and closer getting ready to pounce with their unconditional love and their helpless need for our food.
Dogs just don’t provide love and championship to your child, but also teach them responsibility, keep them active, and provide them security. There is nothing quite like being a kid and having your pup by your side. But unfortunately, accidents happen and they can lead to devastating circumstances. But fortunately they are also avoidable, if you follow a couple rules.
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Let’s get the uncomfortable statistic out of the way first, unsupervised children are 370 times more likely to die from a dog attack. Supervision is the key to reading the situation. It will let you know right away whether a dog can even be around your child in the first place. Growling, showing teeth, tucked tail, even shying away are all signs that you must look for.
Even if your children are older, diligence is still recommended as boys between the ages 5 and 9 are the most vulnerable group because quite frankly they are terrible at reading dogs’ behavior.
This is an important one, especially if you have a dog that you’re completely comfortable having around your kids so you let your guard down a bit – that is completely OK btw.
However, even the best-behaved dogs will have a hard time being behaved when they’re abruptly woken up to a kid jumping on them and/or pulling at their fur. Dogs are very active dreamers and just from watching them sleep, it’s apparent that they really get caught up in their dreams.
Teaching the Kids and Training the Dog
Make sure to show your children how to pet the dog. That means taking their hand, showing them not to grab, and how to pet with a flat hand. This can start once your child can speak and understand, and it’s best to start young. It’s incredibly important to teach them not to grab things out of the dog’s mouth. As they get older, stress to your children to leave dogs without the owner around alone, and make sure they know how to read signs.
When it comes to training your pup, remember they can learn to be gentle too. Some dogs are notorious for using their mouths as their hands, or getting overly excited and start grabbing with their mouth a little too hard. A trick I really love, is whenever you give your pup a treat, say “gentle” and slowly have them take the treat from your hand.
This command will help so much if they get to riled up when playing around, and it offers protection if you’re having a hard time teaching your kid to not touch their mouths or their too young to know not to.
Lead by Example
It’s hard to tell your children to not hit or yell at the family dog if you do it as a form of discipline and training. Kids can’t connect that there is a difference, and for that matter neither can your pup. Yelling and physical discipline will only create a hostile environment. One, which will induce anxiety and fear in you dog and is what leads many to attack in the first place.
Keeping Things Calm
This follows the last idea, large and medium size dogs can easily get riled up and knock down a kid. My 80lb lab has even taken me down before when we roughhouse and he has to learn to play much gentler when around kids. You can help keep things calmer by staying calm yourself and instead of leading your kids by example you lead your pup. I know that it’s easy to get caught up and run around wildly with your kids, but this can trigger your dog to rampage as I like to call it.
Parting Words And Where to Find More Help
There is nothing like getting a family dog and watching your kids grow up with them. The bond they build with their first best friend will do so much for their health and wellbeing. A dog will provide them a means of comfort and support that otherwise could be absent from their lives.
If you have more questions about keeping your children safe around dogs, bringing home a new pup, or just any darn animal question or concern, check out Innovet Pet. They’re a company that’s really striving hard to provide better health to our our pets. They have a bunch of easily digestible information on all things pets, and different health products that are paving the way and giving pet owners the most safe, effective, and natural health treatments.