Dogs and Children: Should I Worry About My Dog Biting My Child?
Any dog can and might bite a child – even friendly dogs.
But this doesn’t mean you should rehome your beloved pet just because a newborn is coming home. Dogs don’t have an innate understanding of how you’d like them to behave around children; training and preparing them for the experience is essential.
Dogs and Child Safety
There are many advantages for your child to have a pet around. Dogs and children become great friends, helping your child develop kindness, emotional cognition, and a sense of responsibility. That said, dogs can pose a significant risk to your child’s health and safety.
For this reason, there are certain precautions you must take when introducing a dog to your child. These include:
1. Active supervision
At no point in time should a small child be left alone with a dog, no matter its breed, size, or temperament. Even gentle, friendly dogs are unpredictable around children. The running, shouting, and high-energy play of toddlers could overwhelm your dog. And in the case of infants, the gurgling sounds could frighten the dog, leading to bites.
2. Let your dog and child get to know each other slowly
When your child is old enough, teach them to play and interact with the dog gently. Make sure to maintain close supervision during their interaction so you can step in when and if needed. Close supervision also means staying alert and avoiding distractions like using the phone.
Another thing, your dog must be well trained to obey commands like sit, stay, drop and come. Otherwise, it may be challenging to show them how they should interact with your child.
3. Teach your child when and how not to interact with your dog
Believe it or not, younger children may test your dog’s patience more than you think. To a toddler, a dog is just another thing in the world they’d like to explore by poking, prodding, pulling their ears, or climbing on them. And because dogs are very territorial, they may perceive the child as a threat.
When it comes to dogs and children, boundaries are everything, whether your little one is old enough to understand them or not. So teach your child to be kind and polite to dogs, the same way as they would to another child.
As your child grows, teach them not to approach dogs when they’re:
- Unwell, injured, or tired
- Eating or having a treat
- Playing with a toy
- Blind or deaf
More importantly, don’t let your child approach a dog with its puppies as it might get aggressive.
4. Give your dog some space
If your dog looks unhappy when interacting with your child, let them go somewhere where they can feel safe and happy. Dogs sometimes get weighed down, akin to how humans can get overwhelmed. So, set up an area where they can relax away from the child and reward them for walking away. This way, they know they have a safe space they can retreat to when feeling anxious, threatened, or overwhelmed.
All in all, dogs are naturally social, and they enjoy human company. However, with time and the proper precautions, your child and your pet may become the greatest of friends. To ensure the safety of your children, take time to understand canine body language and behavior to avoid unsafe interactions.
Dogs and children deserve to be able to play with each other. Contact Hebron Veterinary Hospital at (860) 228-4324 for information and tips to help make it a safe, fun experience. Or visit our Contact Page.