Dogs are often called “man’s best friend,” and for good reason. They can be extremely loving and can bring a great deal of joy to a family, even those with small children. However, dogs can also be dangerous, particularly when children aren’t aware of the boundaries between themselves and the dog. If you are a parent and have a dog, here are 6 things you must do to help keep your child (and your dog) safe.
1. Never Leave Your Child Alone With a Dog
You should never assume that your child is safe with a dog (even your own) or that a dog is safe with a child. Always supervise your child closely when playing with a dog, and be sure to remove your child or the dog from the situation if the dog begins to show any signs of discomfort or aggression.
2. Ensure Your Dog Is Adequately Trained
Training can go a long way to ensuring that your dog will follow commands, even in stressful situations. Take your dog to obedience classes when he or she is old enough to participate, and make sure your dog learns important commands like “no,” “stop,” or “easy.”
3. Teach Your Children That Dogs Don’t Like Kisses & Hugs
Children have a way of getting up close and personal to dogs that they don’t always like. If a child invades a dog’s personal space and doesn’t recognize cues that the dog is uncomfortable, the dog may lunge or bite. Teach your child that dogs don’t like hugs or kisses, and to give a dog enough personal space to get away if it feels threatened.
4. Teach Your Children How to Act Around a Strange Dog
A strange dog is more likely to bite a human child that it doesn’t know, especially if the child gets into its personal space. Teach your child to stand still around a strange dog and to avoid petting it or engaging it in any way. Eventually the dog will get bored and wander away.
5. Neuter or Spay Your Dog as Soon as Possible
Statistics show that unneutered male dogs are the most likely to bite or attack. Make sure to spay or neuter your dog as soon as they are old enough or when recommended by your veterinarian.
6. Adequately Socialize Your Dog
A poorly socialized dog is likely to become more nervous or frustrated around young children or large groups of people. Starting at a young age, socialize your dog with others and help them to be comfortable around multiple people and children. Dogs can be socialized a variety of ways, so be sure to ask your veterinarian or your trainer for their recommendations for your unique dog.
Although not all dog bites can be prevented, being smart and doing everything possible to prevent an attack as both a pet owner and a parent will help you decrease the chances of serious injury. Follow these 6 simple tips to keep both your dog and your children safe and happy!