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Dogs and Children:

How to handle dogs around children, and children around dogs Paula Bergeron - Grafton, NH


ost people have a dreamy picture of dogs and children together, playing, laughing, and bonding, however we don’t seem to be able to recreate that dream, instead we get, screaming, nipping, and crying. Not fun for kids or dogs, and can lead to hard feelings and strained relationships between family and friends.  Why does this happen?  Mostly because these dreams of dogs and children do not often happen without some effort and teaching on both the dog owners and parents part.  Children and dogs can often be like oil and water.  Dogs are suspicious of sudden jerky movement, are startled by loud raucous noise, and are bated with a strong stare into their eyes.  Children by nature have uncontrollable limbs, are free with their expression of joy, anger, or fear, and want to get a good look right into a dogs face.  These and many more behaviors that come naturally to both species that can lead their interactions to end in tears or sadly dangerous life threatening bites!   How to handle your dog around children:  Always practice caution: Let’s begin with the most difficult thing… children asking to pet your dog. Just Don’t! Do not allow unknown children to come up and pet your dog… it is a good for children to learn to give a dog space, and it is the way you teach your dog that you have their back and can trust you. If you are having a gathering where children are involved plan ahead. Begin with your dog in their crate placed somewhere away from the excitement.  Wait for any introduction until after the initial excitement of arrival has worn off. Then bring your dog out “on leash” and tell the kids you are going for a walk.  Allow the kids to walk parallel to the dog. Get the kids attention on the surrounding nature or buildings so that the dog can get used to the children without their direct interaction.  If all has gone well and the children seem to be able to follow direction, allow your dog to sniff while the children are still, with no petting or bending over.. once the dog is done sniffing you will be able to read if he/she is comfortable or stiff, if stiff you tell the kids, that was great now let’s let Rover go rest in his crate.  if the dog is wiggly and comfy then you can allow a bit more interac26 4 Legs & a Tail

tion with the kids… but always with your supervision and preferable with his leash dragging.  If the excitement gets too high… calmly remove the dog and allow him to go to his/her crate.  Always be conservative when it comes to allowing your dog around children, end the interaction before either party gets tired, over excited, or frustrated, and you will have a good foundation for the next visit.   How to handle your children around dogs:  Teach responsible behavior: When it comes to dogs and children, too many folks put all the responsibility on the dog, but half of this interaction requires the basic skills of parent and child.  Never assume a dog is safe, not even when an owner says, “He’s friendly!”  Teach your child to NEVER approach a dog they do not know… no matter what.  Children should not go up to dogs on the walk and ask to pet, even thought that is what is normally taught, the answer should be no from the dog walker because it is an unpredictable place, and the dog may react from a street noise or the crowd. Teach your child how fun it is to watch dogs but not touch and practice this together.   Next teach your child that when it is ok to meet a dog, they need to let the dog get used to them first. Allow the dog to approach and then stand very still and silent while the dog sniffs…  I call it the 4’s   Stand Silent and Still while puppy Sniffs.  Once the dog is done sniffing then we encourage the child to sit on a chair and to pet under the dog’s chin or chest.  If the child moves to the floor, the excitement of the dog may ratchet up and overwhelm your child so stay vigilant and prepare to move your child back to a chair.  If your child is not able to remain calm, that is ok. It just means they are not ready to meet the dog and they should be taken away from the dog. It is the parent's responsibility to keep their child calm around the dog, or the dog may interpret your child as another dog and rough play begins and Continued Next Page

Fall 2017

4 Legs & a Tail Lebanon Fall 2017  
4 Legs & a Tail Lebanon Fall 2017