While your dog may be a huge bundle of love and sweetness, you never know when he may have a bad day and snap at your child. It’s very important to teach your kids how to act around dogs, whether they are yours, a friends, or a strangers. Don’t feel like the worst parent in the world if you have made some mistakes so far-it’s okay! Having a dog in the house, much like having children, is always a learning process. As always, you never want anything to happen to your kids, so teaching them how to be safe around your pet should be a priority from day one.
Read on for three great tips on how you can keep your kids safe when you have a dog in the house or when they encounter one somewhere else.
The Problem: Using a dog as a play toy
The Solution: Young children often see large, fluffy dogs as stuffed animals that they can crawl all over. Some will even take to riding them like a small horse. Many dogs will tolerate a child climbing all over them; but in reality, it’s a dangerous practice. Dogs can quickly become super uncomfortable when your little one is using them as a jungle gym. It’s also dangerous for the dog, as their back muscles are not strong enough to carry a child, no matter how small that child may be.
The solution is an easy one. Teach your kids from a young age that their pet is not a play toy. Don’t allow them to hang all over the dog or use them as a personal toy. Show them the proper way to pet a dog that doesn’t include climbing on them. One way is called the “one-handed pat” in which your child pets the dog with one hand, giving them the opportunity to move when they have had enough.
The Problem: Your dog isn’t groomed well or often
The Solution: Dogs need to be groomed often, not only for their well-being, but for the safety of your kids. Their nails should be trimmed on a regular basis, either by yourself or by a professional groomer. When your dog has long nails, they can easily scratch or claw your child as they are playing or even when they are being gentle. Keeping them trimmed regularly will ensure that your child, as well as other family members or friends, won’t get accidentally scratched.
While you’re at it, be sure to brush and trim your dog on a regular basis to avoid clumped and matted hair. Mats on your dog’s body can hold bacteria and parasites, such as fleas. While fleas don’t live on humans like they do dogs, they will bite a child around their feet, ankles, and legs.
Flea bites are usually no more than an itchy irritation, but there is the possibility of a child being allergic to them. If this is the case, they may experience a bad reaction of itching and swelling of the skin. Make sure to invest in a quality flea and tick control product that will protect your dog from unwanted parasites.
The Problem: Allowing a child to walk your dog
The Solution: If your child has ever asked for a dog, they have probably promised to walk them. It may seem like a great idea to let your child take over this responsibility; after all, you have enough to do without worrying about daily walks! In reality, however, asking your child to walk the dog is a responsibility they won’t be ready for, no matter how small the dog is or how well-behaved they act in public.
For example, they may come across another dog who wants to fight with yours, or your dog could take off running while your kid struggles to keep up. Your child may even be too young to be out on their own in the streets or at the dog park.
Luckily, there is a solution that will keep your kids safe and happy. For starters, they can walk with you every day while you hold tightly to the leash yourself. You can also train them to take over when they are ready by clipping your dog to two leashes- a shorter one and a longer one. Let your child walk your dog with the shorter leash while you hang back with the longer one. This allows you to coach them while they feel as if they are helping. Remember, your child can always help with grooming and feeding!
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