Babies Children and Dogs Living Safely Together, Preventing Dog Bites
Many families with young children also have pet dogs. While this can be a wonderful, loving relationship, all too often the once adored family dog is abandoned, re-homed, or worse, euthanized, because he snapped, growled, or bit the child.
This article will show you how to keep your kids and your dog(s) living safely together under the one roof.
I will show you how to keep both your children safe from your dog and also your dog safe from your children!
When it comes to children, it is the 5-9 year age bracket that seems to be the most commonly bitten.
Why Dogs Bite ChildrenIt is important to first understand why dogs bite.
Dogs are not like humans and therefore cannot be expected to behave like humans.
Dogs can’t resolve fear, or relinquish the need to dominant through a heart to heart conversation. We need to understand that they do not perceive things, or react to things like we do.
Fear AggressionA dog who is fearful, nervous, or not properly socialized, may react to things that frighten him with a fight approach, as opposed to at take flight approach. If a nervous, fearful dog is scared and feels it has no way out of a situation it may protect itself by either biting, growling or snapping.
To a nervous dog, young children are loud, unpredictable and hard for the dog to understand, therefore it may start showing signs of fear aggression.
Dominance AggressionAlternatively if a dog is a dominant animal and sees itself as head of it’s pack and by pack this includes humans and other animals in the house, then it may discipline the pack and pull them into line with some aggressive force. This is natural behaviour and is how in a wild dog pack, an alpha dog often disciplines his subordinates and keeps the pack balanced and strong.
If a dominant dog sees a young child as below him in the pack, then disciplinary growls, snaps and bites may occur.
A dominant dog may also take ownership of possessions and food and may bite if for e.g you try to take away, or get too close to their toy, or food, or if you try to do things like get them down off the couch. This isn’t because the dog is nasty, but rather the dominant dog in a pack always go first and gets first dibs on possessions.
Most Dogs Are Not Naturally DominantThe majority of dogs displaying dominant behaviour are not naturally alpha dogs. These dogs feel they need to be the pack leader of their human family, because they have no one offering them clear leadership, boundaries or guidelines, the basic criterion all dogs need to feel secure, happy and stable. These dogs are confused as to where they fit in the pack and how it should function, so they try to take control so as to create a sense of order in their world.
Dogs of a more submissive nature, are not comfortable, or stable in this role and that can lead to problems such as aggression.
A dog that sees itself as the head of its pack, feels the need to protect its pack and may bite strangers, or even people it knows, if it feels that it’s pack is being threatened or in danger. I am sure that many of you have heard stories of a father/husband who has been bitten by the family dog, because the dog thought he was hurting another family member when in-fact he was just hugging or play wrestling with them. While protectiveness is a normal reaction for a the alpha male of a dog pack, or for a female protecting her pups, it is not a safe behaviour for a dog that lives side by side with humans. Adult humans for safety reasons, must be the alpha in the house.
Other Reasons A Dog May Bite A ChildAnother reason a dog may bite is when they are in pain or unwell; e.g. many a vet has experienced first hand, what it feels like to be bitten by a sick or injured dog.
One other all too common reason children get bitten, is when playtime with their dog goes to far and gets too rough. Dogs, unless taught differently, play with us as they would with other dogs and this naturally includes with their mouth and teeth. If you observe dogs playing together, there is a lot of mouthing and nipping involved and often a yelp of pain when a play bite was too hard.
Many children have received bites from the family dog when approaching the dog while it slept and startling it, or by hurting the dog by pulling or hitting it.
Tips On How To You Keep Both Your Child & Your Dog Safe?Deciding to bring a dog into the family when you have young children is a big responsibility. You need to be sure that you have the time to devote to walk your dog daily and to train and socialize not only your new dog/puppy, but also, and just as importantly, you need to teach your children how to act around the dog and you need to be there supervising them together. Read Keeping Your Dog Healthy and Happy
Before you bring child and dog together, it is crucial that you explain to children how to behave around dogs. Print out my Teaching Children How To Behave Around Dogs – Fun Dog Behaviour Poster For Kids To Colour
The ideal dog to be around children is one that has a calm, submissive nature, with the right energy levels to match your kids.
Introducing Your New Baby To Your Dog Safely
Safety Tips To Follow On Keeping Kids & Dogs Safe Together