Child Safety

This is one of the things that I find SO important.  Not only does a little understand go a long way into less children being bitten, but it also helps your dog assimilate and be happier in your home.

A dog is a pack animal - no matter how domesticated they are, they are still a pack animal.  Pack hierarchy is very important to them.  You must always be leader of the pack - you must have their respect, they must not fear you or be afraid in any way.  If you have their respect, they will go the end of the world for you ... and back!  A dog's life is all about being cool!  Respect is the key term.  You do not always have to dominate your dog so that you intimidate it, you must earn it's respect, be consistent, kind and be cool!  Your children must also be seen to be higher in your pack (family) than the dog is.  So ...

A child must always have their face higher than a dog's.

Don't leave a young child ... experts say children under 9 years old ... should not be left alone with a dog/pet no matter how much you love the dog, think you know them or trust them.  No matter how much you love them, you can never classify any animal 100% safe.  You can never foresee a situation and how the dog or the child will react.  Always supervise any interaction between your pet and a child.

Educate your children and your dog(s).

If a child (or you) lie on the floor, then the child is putting themselves in a subservient position and the puppy/dog will automatically pounce on them.  Take the time to watch dogs at play - they take it in turns to be on their backs and be pounced on.  A dog sees no difference between you or any other member of it's pack.  It will think the child wants to play - so, either the child sits on the sofa or the dog is outside.  If the child insists on lying on the floor then don't tell the dog off for something it does automatically (natural dog behaviour) - if the child gets bitten or scratched, it is NOT the dog's fault, it is only playing by invitation.  You can, of course, teach your dog to be a little more gentle.  Having a 'rough and tumble' on the floor with your puppy can be great fun but be aware of what you are instigating.

 Always feed yourself and your children BEFORE the dog.

(Children + Food + Dogs [can] = Disaster... not always but better to be safe than sorry.)

Don't allow your dog to be on the same level as you i.e. don't let them sit on the sofa or sleep on the bed - without being aware of your consequence.  (In 38 years, I have only been bitten twice - both by small dogs and they both were allowed to sleep on the children's beds.)

Don't underestimate a puppy or a small breed of dog - they can do just as much damage as a big dog.

Don't let your child(ren) tease a dog - EVER!

Teach your children to ALWAYS ask an owner if they can touch their dogs.

Don't let your child stick their fingers or hands through a fence to touch a dog.

Encourage your children to close their hand into a fist so that a dog can sniff the back of their hand (palm down) instead of having fingers out that can be bitten - a fist can be withdrawn much quicker than an open hand.

When you or your child approach a dog, do not approach from the front (head-on) - approach from the side so the dog has a chance to check you out first (depending on the breed, some dogs can see almost 180o), then if the owner allows you to touch the dog, extend the closed hand (as above) towards the dog to sniff, then if the dog seems okay, scratch the dog under the chin or pat their shoulder.  DO NOT attempt to pat strange dogs on the top of their heads as this is a fairly pushy and rude act (apparently) in their eyes and will react accordingly.  DO NOT lean over the dog as this too will seem pushy - stroke the dog on the side you are on.

Always try to avoid eye contact with a strange dog (even ones you do know!) as they can interpret constant eye contact as a threat or challenge and will react accordingly.  (Note to parents/adults:  A pet should not hold eye contact with you - they should always divert their gaze - if they do not divert their gaze, you could have a dog with behavioural issues.)

Teach your children to never interfere with working dogs i.e. 'Seeing Eye Dogs' or Sniffer Dogs.  Usually, the owner won't mind ... if you ask first.

Look for signs of behavioural problems in your dog, be aware of your situation and never become complacent.

Since February 2000, when I started this site, I have written back personally to thousands of emails free of charge but I have now included (and added to) a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) Page where hopefully you can find an answer to your question and there is a lot of information that can be found around the site.  If you cannot find your answer, please include whatever you think is relevant in your email - the more you tell me, the clearer the picture I will have of your situation.  I do reply to every one but if you have not received a reply within 2 weeks, please email me again as I may not have received your email or been able to access your email address.

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