Is it safe for children to be with dogs unsupervised?
Posted by: Tim Berrisford
Category: Expert Advice
It is often said that dogs personalities can be influenced by the people that interact with them and their behaviour can be affected when around children a lot . Dogs and children play well together due to their sense of fun and endless running around and chasing one another – you will often see family pets being extremely close to children for this reason.
Children enjoy playing with pets as it is something different to their family or class mates at school. They are furry friends that seem to be hilarious to children doing simple things like fetch. Whilst children can be great for dogs to have around it is important you observe them playing at all times. Children can occasionally be cruel to dogs like they may do with their friends at school and you wouldn’t want the dog to get agitated and gain bad behavioural traits such as jumping up or nipping.
When training your dog, ensure the whole family including children know the correct command words and know the house rules for the dog because dogs need consistency as they are creatures of habit and learn from their actions so for you to have a dog with desirable behaviour you must all be doing the same thing. This does not mean not to include the children because it is very important for a dog to mix with both adults and children from a young age regularly.
Dog behaviourists believe that how an owner treats their children is an indication to how they will treat their dog. They also believe that having hyperactive children can have a bad influence on a dog.
If you do not have your own children however you are considering getting a dog then it is essential to allow your dog to socialise with children as early on as possible and quite regularly. Dogs will always come into contact with children either on walks through a park or when taken on a day out and for them to be used to children already will ensure the children are kept safe and your dog knows not to react any differently than they do to an adult.
The first time your dog meets a child, keep them on a lead and stay relaxed at all times as dogs can pick up on anxiety and you do not want them to relate being anxious to children. Get the child to put a treat in the palm of their hand with their fingers together. Ask the child to lower their hand lower than the dogs head so they can see the treat and wait for the dog to take the treat. Then get the child to stroke the dog on their neck as patting on top of the head an be seen as aggression as it shuts out the dogs vision. Ensure your child does not suddenly hug your dog at their first meet; you should take time with this process even if you think both your child and your dog want to progress. The slower this process is completed, the more loyal the relationship between both dog and children will be and the safer the end relationship.
Always supervise your dog when around children even if you think you can fully trust your dog, you never know what their reaction would be.