Home > Dog Behavior, Miscellaneous, Pet News, Pet Topics > Parents/Dog Owners:The Most Important Thing You Can Do When It Comes To Kids And Dogs

Parents/Dog Owners:The Most Important Thing You Can Do When It Comes To Kids And Dogs

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

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?

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  1. September 23, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    You know how many adults have to learn this lesson, too? It’s really surprising how many people will just come up and pet a dog without asking permission. I used to attend a lot of craft shows as a vendor and Jersey would come with me most of the time since the venues were outdoors. I cannot count how many times adults would come up and molest Jersey when she was sleeping and without asking me. Luckily Jersey has a pretty good temperament :) And don’t get me started on the kids…

    • Mel
      September 23, 2010 at 5:47 PM

      Agreed – Adults have this problem too. I am sorry Jersey has to deal with this too. I once owned a dog who was very nervous around children and I often had to intervene to prevent a possible dog bite situation. But with Daisy it’s the adults that I have to watch out for as well. People see a Lab and assume they all love attention. Daisy prefers to check people out first.

  2. September 24, 2010 at 2:44 AM

    Great post!

    I wish people would remember that all dogs bite, some dogs just have a longer fuse than others (you can say the same about people really: pushed hard enough, pretty much every one would give someone a good one). Dogs are animals. Animals communicate in much different ways than we do.

    I *love* that kids love animals and I *love* that they are little sponges that just need to be pointed in the right direction! If kids have the tools and education they need they will grow up into reponsible adults and parents who can again pass on good habits.

    • Mel
      September 24, 2010 at 7:17 AM

      Thanks Shauna. I agree. Every dog has the potential to bite. It doesn’t matter the breed or age. I think if all of us do our part to help children understand this we may help make it safe for both the child and dog.

  3. September 25, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    I wish peoples wuld teach their wil peoples dis stuff fur sure. I is a nice guy really, but those wil peoples come running at me! Mamma always asks if her can pet udder furiends, why doent everyone ask?
    giant wet kisses,
    Roscoe

  4. September 25, 2010 at 10:48 PM

    This is so important! When I moved from the country back to Oak Park, outside Chicago, Tashi had to get used to city sounds and people and cars everywhere. All that sensory data caused some overload and I can’t tell you how appreciative I was of all the smart moms I ran into whose very young children stopped in front of us and calmly asked me if they could pet the dog! I was over the moon! I’ve not had one child try to pet the dog without asking – I should hand out gold stars or something:) I agree – kids are sponges and can learn great lessons if their parents are made aware. Thanks for this post!

    • Mel
      September 25, 2010 at 10:59 PM

      Thanks for your comments Mary! I actually have had only a few ask me first and each time I thanked them for asking first. I always appreciate it when a child asks. I just wish more did.

  1. May 14, 2011 at 11:30 PM

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