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Oakwood Blog

Child Safety Around Dogs

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How many times do we hear about children getting bitten by their own family dogs, it’s getting more and more common, but who is at fault, is it the dog or the child or even the parents?  It’s often a reason owners will contact me at Oakwood Dog Training Centre for advice. I’ve found a great article about ways to keep a child safe around dogs written by Rosie Barclay, here they are: 

Teach Children to speak dog and stay safe

How often do you say “give mummy a kiss hello” or “give granny a kiss before you go to bed”? It’s common practice for children to hug and kiss their loved ones and we teach this from an early age. Children get lots of attention and praise for acting this way so it comes as no surprise that children want and believe they should grab hold of their lovely family pet or someone else’s and give at a good hard squeeze and a big slobbery kiss.

Some dogs seem to cope well with all this extra attention and often solicit such behaviour from us. However, some don’t and our lovely family pet may not enjoy such activities and may move away or give early warning signals that they are finding it all a bit too much.


So how can we tell if our lovely family pet is loving it or not?

Well it’s quite easy really just look at the dog whilst your child is moving in for the squeeze. Does it look as if he if it’s enjoying it? Is he doing that old waggly bottom and open lollopy mouth thing? Or does he move his head away, are his ears suddenly flattened against his head, has he tucked his tail under his body, 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 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”.

Why don’t dogs like hugs and kisses?

Well smiling, hugging and kissing each other isn’t really how dogs greet each other normally when they want to find out how the friendly another dog might be. They use other ways such as sniffing each other, checking out how waggly their bodies are and soliciting play bows when their bottoms are sticking up in the air and they bounce around. Some dogs simply aren’t interested in “making friends” and just ignore the other dog completely.
Others may show more intent behaviour when meeting another dog. They may stare at each other, place their jaws over the backs of the others dogs neck and squeeze, they may show each other their teeth, growl, bark and even try to roll each other over and stand over them. This behaviour isn’t to make friends this is let the other dog know that if they were to cause trouble they had better watch out because I am quicker, braver and stronger than you are.
Therefore, it is quite possible that a strange dog may view a small child noisily lunging towards them manically staring with a face full of teeth and grabbing them around the neck as something of a threat and may respond accordingly.
Dogs especially young dogs may also get overly excited, just like children, when there is a lot of running, screaming, rolling over and chasing going on and it may end in tears as dogs do use their mouths and children may get caught up in them. Children also run around on two legs, which are not quite as steady as having four so accidents may happen.

Think about it from your dogs view…

What does a smile mean to a dog? And open mouth showing teeth, surely that’s a growl?

Direct eye contact is a polite gesture in people, it shows you are interested. In dogs is is an aggressive threat so id most likely to create fear or aggression in your dog.

So what can we do to reduce the risks associated around dogs and kids?

We don’t want to frighten the children and we don’t want a bored, poorly exercised dog.
Well you can teach your child to speak dog. The APBC have researched lots of excellent free website resources which are educational and factual and you can view them here.
There are resources for all ages, parents and teachers to help children learn how to speak dog and how to look out for the warning signs that suggest a dog is not happy or afraid. You can begin using these resources at pre-school age and suggest sites that your school may like to use. Our kids will then grow up with a clear understanding of how to stay safe around dogs and our dogs will learn that children are pretty nice to have around to.


How we can help?

If you are struggling with managing your dogs and children and their relationship, contact us at Oakwood Dog Training Centre for advice and guidance.


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