Parents/Dog Owners:The Most Important Thing You Can Do When It Comes To Kids And Dogs
Just yesterday I saw this important bit of news on children and dogs. It was about the results of a recent study that showed most children often mistake a dog’s bared teeth as a smile. Yikes! That’s not good news!
And yet, it probably shouldn’t be all that surprising to us adults that a child might mistake a dog’s snarl for a smile. After all, how much life experience do most children have with dogs, especially dangerous ones? Most kids love dogs. They love that they’re cute and cuddly, and they’re fascinated by them.
But, as cute and cuddly dogs can be, not all of them are good with kids. The chance of a serious dog bite increases when a child runs up to an unknown dog with the intent on making friends. As a professional dog walker with Mel’s Pet Pals, LLC. it is one of my greatest fears – a child running straight at me (and a client’s dog) with the intent of saying “Hi”. It is dangerous – for both the child and the dog, and yet it happens ALL of the time.
I have learned from all my years of volunteering at an animal shelter that you don’t have a lot of time to stop a child before they get within biting distance of a dog. So, I have learned to say “STOP” very loudly and very quickly. It works most every time. The child stops before reaching the dog, and I have enough time to explain that this is not a dog they can pet.
Parents, you can take a proactive role in preventing your child from being bitten by doing one simple thing. Teach your child to ASK FOR PERMISSION before approaching a dog AND teach her to ask if it is okay to pet the dog first. That’s it. One thing.
Dog Owners, you too can do one thing to lessen the chance a child will be bitten. Reinforce the behavior you want to see. If a child asks for permission to approach or pet your dog, THANK THEM for asking. There is nothing more powerful than praising a child for doing something good. How much better would all of us feel (parents and dog owners) if we could each do our one thing?
Kids and dogs can be great together, but keeping both safe requires a little forethought, training and supervision. If we each do our part, parents and dog owners, we end up keeping both the child and the dog safe. What better outcome could there be?