Safety tips for dogs and children

dogs and childrenAs with most things, the best way to deal with problems is to prevent them from occurring.  By giving children and dogs firm guidelines and establishing good habits you will have done all you can to avoid any serious issues.

Teach your child:

  • To read your dog’s body language and identify signs that your dog wants to be left alone.  So, how can we tell if our lovely family pet is enjoying it or not? Well does he look as if he’s enjoying it? Is he doing that old waggly bottom and open lollopy mouth thing? Or does he move his head away and flatten his ears against his head? Has his tail disappeared under his body or sticking up rigidly or even wagging in a controlled way? Is he licking his lips, is he starting to yawn and can you see the whites around his eyes? It’s more obvious if he begins to growl, lifts his lips to show his teeth or goes to snap but these other more subtle behaviours are just as important as they are saying “please keep away you are worrying me and I don’t like it”.
  • How to protect themselves from an overexcited dog by demonstrating the basics of dog bite prevention, such as turning their back on the dog, rolling into a ball, protecting hands and face and calling for help, rather than running away or screaming if he’s chased by a dog.
  • That your dog’s right to end a play session is just as important as your child’s right to do so and to leave your dog alone when she retreats to a bed or crate that you’ve designated as a dog’s “safe spot.”
  • Not to approach a dog that is sleeping, chewing its bone or eating.
  • Not to approach a dog you don’t know. It may be ill or grumpy. 
  • How to say hello to a dog, squat down, make calm gentle movements and give a treat, offer the hand for the dog to sniff before giving a or rub/pat on the chest (rather than on top of the head).

Teach your dog:

  • To respond to the word “Stop” and encourage your child to practice using that word when appropriate.
  • Not to jump up at children
  • Not to jump on your child’s bed
  • Not to grab or pick up your child’s toys
  • Not to grab or mouth your child, not even in play
  • Not to run after children.

As with most things, the best way to deal with problems is to prevent them from occurring. By giving children and dogs firm guidelines and establishing good habits you will have done all you can to avoid any serious issues.

The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) have researched and approved a number of excellent free website resources which are aimed at educating children, parents and teachers how to behave safely around dogs here: www.apbc.org.uk/info/dog_safety_information.

These factual and free resources help children learn how to speak and read dog language and what to look out for if a dog is unhappy or afraid.

Let’s teach the next generation of children to grow up with a clearer understanding of how to stay safe around dogs and allow our dogs to stay safe around children!

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are
closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more
about what to do in an out of hours emergency.