Let’s start here: any dog can bite. Even the most friendly and easygoing dog will bite if provoked. Believe it or not, the vast majority of dog bites are from a familiar dog – often the family pet. When a bite occurs, both the dog and child pay a very high price for it. Children can be physically hurt and emotionally damaged if they get bitten. The dog often ends up in a shelter.
The most important thing you can do to prevent dog bites at home is supervision. Number 2 is training, for both the kids and the dog. Teach your children to respect your pets and train and socialize your dog.
- Most dogs don’t like to be hugged. Some will tolerate it, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy it.
- Tell your kids not to kiss Fido; dogs like to be petted instead.
- Keep your children away from the dog when he’s eating. Even if your dog is OK with it, no one wants to be bothered when they eat.
- Don’t stare at the dog and don’t put your face in the dog’s face.
- Kids should never throw anything at the dog, yell, hit, tease, or pick him up.
- Don’t ride the dog, no matter how large they are.
- Make your dog part of your family! Don’t lock them up, tie them up, or keep them outside all the time.
- Teach your children that if the family dog has grabbed something that belongs to your child, they should get an adult, not attempt to get the toy back by themselves.
- Remind your children that pets have feelings and can feel pain, just like they do.
- Consider your child’s age. If they are very young, you can’t expect them to remember the rules.
- Children should never put their fingers in the dog’s eyes, ears, mouth, or bum (with very young kids this frequently happens – it looks like a target).
- Set up a crate or private space for your dog. Teach your child that when Fido goes to his space, it means he needs a break and a nap.
- Show your kids how to touch the family pet. Petting on their back is good, with soft, long strokes.
- Work with your child to teach the dog new tricks; it’s fun for everyone.
- Talk in a calm, happy voice to Fido. Many children read books to the family dog, which is an excellent activity for both of them!
- Teach youngsters to be kind to all animals.
- Do things your dog likes – fetch is a fun game for everyone.
- Teach your kids to let sleeping dogs lie; no one likes being roused from a nap!
Please watch the following video; it will help you and your children learn how to read dog body language. It’s fun to learn, and it’s a life skill you will often use.
Dog Body Language (includes a fun picture quiz)
You’ll have a safe and happy home once your pets and kids understand each other!