Monday, 25 May 2015
I am prompted to write this as a response to all the parents who also own dogs, particularly those posting pictures and videos on Facebook and on Youtube, of their dogs and their kids being 'cute' together.
Here's a statistic for you - 77% of children bitten by dogs, will be bitten by a dog who is a family dog, or a dog belonging to close friends/relatives - in other words, your child is MORE likely to be bitten by a dog you and they are familiar with.
Why is that?
Well when we live with a dog or we are really familiar with a dog, we forget they are a dog, we relax, we want to see the cute stuff, and we let slip from our minds that our dog, even the smallest of them, is a thinking, feeling individual who has a language our children don't understand and most of us are just guessing at.
Check out these two previous blogs on the subject:
In the first blog, the little boy Blake was raised to think it was acceptable to 'pop on the nose' a dog that approached him, he was raised to feel completely confident about approaching dogs with food, approaching dogs who were eating, and to hit dogs...
He was ALLOWED to sit on dogs, hit them, ride them like ponies - are we SURPRISED he ended up being bitten?
In the second blog really watch that video clip - if you do nothing else, watch the clip and see if YOU can pinpoint WHEN that lovely labrador says 'I don't want to play with this baby'... its actually a long long time before he takes any further action and in my opinion he looks to his owner for help several times before he gets any and she NEVER really realises how uncomfortable he actually is about the babies behaviour.
Dogs and kids can have an awesome time, but those two blogs show you how things go wrong and how subtle dog body language is at first, when our dogs are talking to us, before they start shouting!
So, whats safe and whats not safe?
Don't - allow your child to sit on, hit, pull, kick, stand on, your dog.
Don't - allow your child to get in the dogs bed when he is in it.
Don't - allow your child to approach a dog who is eating a chew toy, bone or his meal.
Don't - allow your child to get in a dogs face, put their arms around his neck, or put their face in his face.
Don't - allow your child to tell off or discipline or correct your dog.
Do - encourage your child to respect your dog and understand he has feeling and emotions too.
Do - encourage your child to think about your dogs needs and desires - teach them to play with the dog in ta way the dog likes, such as throwing a ball.
Do - encourage your child to invite the dog to them for fuss and attention, and to respect if the dog does not wish to come over.
Do - involve your child (age appropriately) with care such as grooming and training and in measuring out or preparing food.
Do - encourage your child to come to you and tell you about the dog if the dog has something, even if that item belongs to the child.
For parents - never leave your child unsupervised with a dog, never expect your dog to tolerate unpleasant or unfair handling by a child, NEVER EVER punish your dog for walking away, or for warning that a childs behaviour is making them feel uncomfortable.
IF your dog is warning by freezing, lip curling, growling or air snapping at your child or at you, call in a professional, prevent the situation getting worse by safely managing the dog and child, DO NOT PUNISH THE BEHAVIOUR, AVOID IT HAPPENING IN THE FIRST PLACE, until the professional can get there.