When I was a young, wee little child, my parents purchased a Lhasa Apso. Neither of them had much dog experience, but both caved to the cuteness overload that is a puppy and brought “Missy” home soon after that. I have no memories of this besides seeing the dog in pictures with me. As a toddler at the time, I was probably more interested in what my foot tasted like in all honesty. 🙂
I found the pictures as an adult and later asked about Missy. Missy was in our home for less than a year. Apparently, she bit me when I was reaching into her food bowl one day. My parents blamed the dog and gave her to an elderly woman. Before everyone complains about my parents, I share this story with you because things like this happen a lot and are so preventable.
Let’s start with some very common misconceptions:
1. Breed Stereotypes. “Our first Lab would let you pull on its ears and our kids used to ride him around like a horse.” “My German Shepherd is so great with kids, aren’t all of them that way?” People assume that because the dog is insert any breed here:_____that it will be a certain way because of their past experiences. Are there specific breeds that are better with children as a whole? Absolutely, but there are individuals in every breed that don’t fit the mold. Never assume that a dog will be comfortable around children because of its breed.
2.“Can I pet your dog?” If you ask this question and teach your child to ask this question, this is a great start because most people do not, however; I want to take this a step further. Even if the owner may say yes, it’s important that you learn dog body language to know what the dog is actually saying. The owner might have great intentions and think their dog is comfortable when it might not be.
Things you can do to easily help prevent problems:
- Feed your dog in a separate area in the home—he will probably thank you too.
- Teach your children early how to properly interact with a dog to prevent dog bites. Dogs do not enjoy being petted over their heads. Running and screaming around dogs can and will fuel prey drive in some dogs.
- Contact a trainer to prevent and control toy/object possession in your dog.
- Give your dog a space that is safely away from the children and the outside, noisy world. Even the most kid-friendly dog needs a break sometimes. Crates are great for this purpose.
- Have your children join you during training with your dog when age appropriate. Getting the entire family involved will help educate everyone and encourage your dog to respect your child and vice versa.
- Teach bite inhibition to your puppy early. If you have questions about this, you may contact us.
- Socialize young puppies around children as soon as possible.
Dogs and children can and do live in harmony and it is a beautiful thing! I’m thankful that Missy lived out her life with a wonderful woman and wasn’t put to sleep for something that was not her fault. Not all dogs are that lucky. It all comes down to education and prevention.
Below are more resources for you to learn and study:
- Austin Dog Zone’s post about dog bites and prevention: http://www.austindogzone.com/?p=1316
- Extremely wonderful resource for your children and yourself: go here.
- Great post about dog body language: click here.
As always, if you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us!
*If you’re not in the Austin, TX area and would like to enlist the help of a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, click to *this page* to learn how to choose the very best certified trainer for you and your dog.
Post Written By: Laura Neiheisel