Our fur babies are a vital part of our families, often being treated as children to the delight of some and dismay for others. Nevertheless, there's more to pet relationships than you might think and we all need to know how to communicate with each other.
Sadly children are often the recipients of pet aggression, and in many cases could've been avoided using the right techniques and education. We've included some tips below to help your littles understand how to effectively cohabitate with their fur companions and those that they may see around the neighborhood.
Most importantly, never leave a dog and a child alone together. Whether they be the family pet or a stranger, any dog can bite.
Never tease or abuse the animal. A child should NEVER hit an animal. This builds negativity and increases the risk of bites. Pulling a dog's tail or playing keep away with toys is a one-way ticket to a bite.
Aggressive games can easily go awry, and children should not engage in wrestling or tug-of-war games with a dog. Bites can be accidental if the dog is trying to retrieve the toy from a child's hands.
Any dogs that are nursing puppies, eating, or sleeping should not be bothered. Surprising them when they are asleep can lead to a knee jerk reaction where they bite.
Some dogs are territorial around their food and as such, no child should be attempting to interact with them during meal time. Nursing dog mothers are very protective of their offspring. Children should not be allowed to "hang out" or play where the mother is nursing her puppies.
When selecting a dog, research breed characteristics and temperament.
When away from home, caution should be exercised when around strange animals. Here are some general tips regarding behavior around unknown animals:
The dog's owner should be present when a child meets their dog. The child needs to ask permission before approaching or touching the animal. Every time.
Move toward the dog slowly and calmly. Children should not yell, jump around or make other movements that could scare or feel threatening to the dog.
Allow the dog to sniff the child's hand while standing on the side of the dog. Face to face meetings can be construed as aggressive by some dogs.
Do not lean over the dog, instead, go to his side, but not behind him.
Avoid the tail and face when petting the dog. Always be gentle and calm. Jumping, yelling or otherwise can overexcite the animal, who in many cases can easily knock over a child.
If your child is ever knocked over by an animal, teach them to curl up in a ball and protect their face with their arms and hands.
Teach your children to remain calm should they encounter a dog that appears threatening. They should never run, but remain calm and importantly, never make eye contact. Eye contact can be perceived as aggression to some dogs. They should slowly depart and return home or to the safety of a neighbor's home.
Any pet should be treated humanely. Having an "outside" dog severely cripples your family's relationship with them. Leaving them alone for long periods or tying them on a short chain won't build a good relationship with them. Strengthening the bond between your dog and your family will make all of the difference.