Every year there are around 4.5 million dog bites and over half of dog bite victims are children. Majority of dog bites to children occur in or around the home with dogs that they are familiar with. The dog belongs to the family in about 15-30 percent of dog bite cases.
As parents it is our job to educate our children on how to appropriately interact with a dog and how not to. Infants, toddlers and young children should NEVER be left unsupervised with any dog.
Dog bites are not rare! Even the nicest, trained family dog can bite if startled, scared or threatened.
Many children find playing with dogs fun and exciting! You prevent your child being bitten by always supervising their interactions with all dogs including your own. Close supervision means to be within feet and being ready to step in immediately if needed. This also means when your dog and child are interacting you should avoid distractions such as your phone or tv. Dogs who play unattended with children learn bad habits and can learn to fear children over time.
Use a safety zone (crate or playpen) when you are too tired, or busy to coach/supervise interactions. During time in the “safe zone” your child should never bother or disturb your dog. To create a positive association with the crate or “safe zone” you should provide your dog with an activity to do while in there, such as a lick mat, kong filled with a tasty treat, a new bone etc.
Your job as an adult is to coach your child throughout their interactions with the dog. This means teaching your child the do’s and don’ts, and supervising all interactions.
The DON'Ts Of Child and Dog Interactions
Straddling or riding
Blowing on your dog
Touching them from behind or with an object such as a toy
Hitting, kicking etc
Pulling on ear/tail
Leaning or lying on the dog
Disturbing a dog who is confined (crated)
Disturbing a dog who is sleeping/resting
Disturbing a dog who is eating, or chewing a bone
Picking up the dog/puppy
Think of it this way, how many times would you tolerate inappropriate touch/play from another person?
The DO's (WITH SUPERVISION)
Assist/Help with training sessions
Offer gentle slow petting on your dogs chest or under their chin (Avoid reaching over your dog or petting on top of their head)
Help with grooming
Help give water or food
Play fetch, or tug of war
Help take the dog for a walk
"Children of all ages can participate in training. This involvement and investment creates strong and healthy bonds with the family dog." -Karen Pryor
When supervising interactions with your child and dog be aware of the signs that your dog is uncomfortable so that you can step in if needed. When a dog is fearful of something they will show their dislike by avoiding eye contact, tensing up, tucked tail, licking their lips or yawning, lifting a paw and growling.