Having a dog as part of a family can be very rewarding, dogs and children can become great friends. A dog can help children develop in many ways such as understanding, kindness and respect for living things. Caring for a pet can encourage responsibility and help improve children’s social skills with people.
It is very important that we teach children how to be safe around dogs, to protect both child and dog. Children like to play with dogs, hug them, hold them and kiss them.
Below are some tips to keeping your child safe:
- Never leave your child alone in the same room as your dog or anyone else’s dog.
- Teach your child NEVER to approach dogs when they are eating, playing with their ‘special’ toy, sleeping, unwell, injured, blind or deaf.
- Teach your child to be kind to dogs, don’t let them climb over dogs, pull their ears or do anything that you wouldn’t allow them to do to another child.
- Teach your child how to play nicely with your dog.
- Always supervise your child when they are with your dog.
- Never allow your child to approach a dog they don’t know e.g out in the park.
These are the gestures a dog will use to show they are uncomfortable with the situation:
- Lip licking
- Averting their gaze
- Turning their head away
- Dropping of ears
- Low tail wagging
- Tucking their tail under and rolling over on their back
At this point you should leave the dog alone, otherwise it can escalate further to:
- Baring of teeth
- Narrowing of eyes
- Raising of the hairs on the neck or back
- Shifting of weight to allow escape
- Growling or snarling
- Barking or snapping
As long as you are aware of your child’s safety around your dog, having a dog as part of your family is very rewarding and will be a fantastic friend for your child and children placed with you.