Children and dogs are both beloved members of our families. But due to their small size, unpredictability, and curious nature, you should always keep a watchful eye on children and pets to ensure that everyone stays safe.
As long as you keep a lookout, the children and dogs in your life could become the very best of friends.
To ensure everyone remains safe and stress-free, here are some tips to follow. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
How to Introduce Children and Dogs
Just like how you need to train over-excited puppies on how to be polite with people, children need to learn how to be polite with pets. Many dogs don’t like being hugged or squeezed. Instead, teach the child how to gently pat and scratch the dog.
Never let a child sit or lay on a dog. They need their personal space, too!
Dogs use their sense of smell to greet you. When introducing children and pets, teach the child to stay still and let the dog come to them for a sniff. No matter how cute the pup is, children should let dogs approach first.
You could also teach a child some kid-friendly games to play with the dog. Avoid tug-of-war or roughhousing, which can cause accidents for clumsy kids and overexcited pets.
Some games you can teach children and pets are hide-and-seek, fetch, or tag.
Dog Body Language to Look Out For
If a child invades your personal space, you can tell them to stop. Dogs can’t communicate using words. So, it’s even more important to find out what your dog’s body language means and when to step in.
Dogs growl to warn you that they’re stressed out. You should never punish dogs for growling. If a pup starts to growl at a child, separate them immediately, and give the dog some personal space. While it sounds scary, it’s just a dog’s way of letting you know they aren’t happy.
Whale Eyes or Half Moon Eyes
This term describes when the whites of your dog’s eyes show. This, accompanied by other signs of stress, like whining, yawning, shaking, and lowered ears and tail, means that the dog is feeling anxious. If a dog looks at you with whale eyes while being pet or hugged, you should give the dog space.
Freezing or Retreating
If the dog stiffens completely, this is an anxious response that may signal a dog is scared enough to bite. Similarly, if a dog keeps retreating to hide behind its owner, it needs space.
Tail and Ears
If the tail is low or straightened, even if it’s wagging slightly, this is a good indicator that the dog is stressed. Ears pressed back are a sign of anxiety.
What Happens if a Dog Bites?
If the warning signs aren’t noticed, a dog may run out of ways to communicate, and eventually bite. You should separate the child and the dog immediately.
Oftentimes, it may be just a warning nip. But for a small child, this can still be scary. If it’s not a serious bite, take the dog to a safe place, like a crate.
For serious bites involving another person’s dog or child, it’s important to take down everyone’s information, according to sweetlaw.com. The dog owner can be responsible for medical costs, so keeping the contact information of everyone involved is important.
Just remember that a bite is the last resort for most dogs, so never leave children and pets unattended, and make sure you know how to spot a stressed pup.
Want to Know More About Pet Care?
Now that you know how to keep children and dogs safe around each other, you can introduce your kids and furry friends with peace of mind.
Are you considering getting a pet? Be sure to browse our other articles about pet care before you do.