Playing Safely with Dogs
Dogs are a natural draw for most children. Avoid any canine mishaps by teaching your children good manners and a healthy respect for man’s best friend.
Here are the practical rules for helping your kids get along with our four legged pals.
- Always supervise dogs and kids together. Never leave young children alone with any dog.
- Never let children play tug-of-war or other aggressive games with a dog. The child may miss the dog’s signals when the game has gotten serious.
- Avoid surprising or approaching a dog suddenly. Sudden screaming can trigger a fear response.
- Dogs are not toys and sometimes they don’t like to be squeezed, poked, petted or dressed up. Teach your children to respect a dog’s warning growl and immediately stop what they are doing. Bites usually happen when a dog’s initial warnings go unheeded.
- Familiarize them with the other warning signs of a nervous dog: stiff body, tail between the legs or showing their teeth.
- Tell children always to ask the owner before they pet a dog.
- Teach your child never to go near an unfamiliar dog or disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping or has pups. You don’t know how that dog will react to a surprise visit.
- No teasing. Kids sometimes think its fun to play with animals as if they were human friends. But teasing can confuse dogs and make them react on an instinct, which always replaces any learned behaviours. Kids need to understand dogs are not just little people with fur.
- Teach your children the difference between a friendly dog and a dog that is about to attack. The classic position of front paws down, back end in the air with a wagging tail is a signal to play.
- Instruct children to stand still and avoid eye contact if approached by a dog. Screaming or running away can make the dog pursue your child as if it were prey.
- If attacked by a dog, teach your children to curl into a ball with their hands over their ears.
- Remember, unneutered male dogs are the most likely to bite.
Originally Published: January 18, 2011