A dog in the family can be a wonderful things for any child – it teaches them love, respect, how to care and be responsible for another and it can give them a place to find peace and quiet.
But there have to be some rules and be friendly to your own dog is not always a ticket to approach every other dog you see .. here are some statistics and tips on how to teach your children to be careful around animals and in particular dogs and also tips on how to train and look after your dog at home.
Around half of all recorded dog attacks involve children under 12 years of age. And approximately 80 percent of dog bites that are treated at hospitals involve children under 15 years old.
These numbers increase dramatically for children between 5 and 9 years old, and boys are more likely than girls to be bitten. Dogs and unsupervised children are never a good mix, no matter how well behaved your dog normally is.
Advice for Parents
The chances of a dog biting your child can be reduced by following some simple advice.
Education is the key to preventing a dog bite. Children who are taught how to act around and safely play with dogs are much less likely to be bitten.
Supervision is also paramount. Children should always be supervised when they’re around dogs. Almost all fatal dog attacks occur when a child is left unsupervised.
Dog Safety Rules for Kids
Here’s a list of rules to review with your children to ensure they enjoy a safe and happy relationship with dogs:
Always treat your dog with kindness.
Never hit, kick, slap or bite a dog, or pull on its ears, tail or paws.
Leave the dog alone if it is doing something else.
Never bother a dog that has puppies, a dog that is playing with or guarding toys, or a dog that is eating or sleeping.
Do not approach a dog that you don’t know without asking the owner first.
Never approach a dog that is tied up, behind a fence, or in a car.
If you find a dog that is lost, call the police or animal control.
If you want to pet a dog, ask the owner for permission. If the owner says it’s OK, hold out your hand in a fist for the dog to sniff. If he shows interest, you can scratch him under the chin and say hello. Don’t pet the top of his head.
Stay calm. It will help the dog stay calm too
Always talk in a quiet voice or whisper. Don’t shout. Take a “time out” if you feel angry or frustrated, as the dog will pick up on your negative attitude.
If you are suddenly in a vulnerable position with an aggressive dog, keep as still as possible.
If a loose dog approaches you, stand still like a tree. Keep your hands at your sides and stay quiet and calm. Look away from the dog rather than directly at it.
If you are on the ground, curl up into a ball. Stay quiet and calm. Look down at your knees, not at the dog.
Move slowly, set things down carefully, and don’t run when you’re around dogs, as this gets them excited; they may give chase and accidentally hurt you.
Safety Advice for Dog Owners
Consider spaying or neutering your dog
Neutering helps reduce aggression, especially in males. Un-neutered dogs are more than twice as likely to bite than neutered dogs. Female dogs that are in heat or nursing their puppies are more dangerous than spayed females, and their behavior can be unpredictable.
Talk to your vet or local humane organization or animal shelter for information on low-cost spay/neuter assistance.
Always supervise your dog
Dogs that are left on their own may feel uncertain and defensive, or they might become overly confident.
Train and socialise your dog
Ensure that your dog interacts well with people and other dogs. Teach it good manners in the home and in public. Basic training is as important for the owner as it is for the dog, and socialisation is the key to a well-adjusted adult dog.
It’s essential that puppies between 8 and 16 weeks old are exposed to a variety of people, places, dogs, and other animals. As dogs age, continue to expose them to these things to ensure they are well socialized throughout their lives.
Restraining your dog may be necessary
Twenty-four percent of fatal dog attacks involve loose dogs that are off their owner’s property. Dogs that are allowed to roam beyond the yard may see your entire neighborhood as their “territory” and defend it aggressively.
By obeying local leash laws and properly containing your dog within the boundaries of your property, you will not only be respecting the laws in your community, but will also be keeping your dog safe from cars, other dogs and unforeseen dangers.
Don’t chain your dog
Despite the fact that you need to restrain your dog and make sure that it knows its boundaries, it is not a good idea to keep it chained up.
Chained dogs are nearly three times more likely to bite, as tethering or chaining dogs increases their stress levels, protectiveness and vulnerability, thereby increasing the potential for aggression. Fencing is a much better solution.