I want to draw attention to interactions between children and dogs as a couple of images have caught my attention lately and I thought they would be worth sharing, along with some advice on how best to handle interactions between children and dogs – just in case, as all too often when I’m contacted after a dog has bitten a child, the parents/owners didn’t see it coming and considered it unprovoked. Once we’ve spoken and established a bit more information about the situation they were then able to see why it happened, and fortunately we are able to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
The below is a graphic which was shared on Facebook recently:
And the below image shows the Royal dog Lupo, caught in a compromised position, unknown to his owners. Lupo and the dog above both show the wide eyes, tense jaw and pulled back ears of a dog who is feeling wary about having his personal space invaded by a child’s very close face. The direct eye contact George is trying can also make a dog feel wary, coupled with the fact that, in the Royal picture, Lupo is being held so has no ‘escape route’…
It is often forgotten that dogs can feel fearful in situations they are unsure of. The sudden movements and ‘strange’ noises of children can be a cause for concern for some dogs. Also many children have not yet learnt that dogs have feelings too and don’t like to be prodded and pulled about. A dog which bites is not necessarily an aggressive dog. Simply put, it is a dog which didn’t know how else to handle the situation. You can prevent these situations from occurring.
As a general rule of thumb for children and dogs:
- Do not let children approach dogs and get into their personal space.
- Do allow interactions which are supervised, with the dog being invited over and able to retreat when they’ve had enough.
- Do not rely on the dog to know/understand that the child is unlike to (intentionally) do them any harm.
- If you need to leave the room, do take the dog or the child with you, or separate them securely.
- Do calmly remove a dog from the room if they appear to look at a bit overwhelmed/over excited by a child’s behaviour.
My intention is not to scare, but to educate, as I’d honestly say that the vast majority of dog bites on children could have been avoided if the dog had been understood and given its space. Please please please pass share this post with friends with dogs and children, so we can prevent as many dogs and children from suffering as possible.