We’ve all seen them: those carefree dog food commercials that feature adorable, furry puppies jumping on the laps of children, licking their faces and, for the most part, being on their best behavior. Unable to resist the allure of this loveable scene played out on television, children ask their parents for a dog of their own. The following are important Kids and Dogs Safety Tips to teach children, especially if they are going be around dogs unsupervised.
Many parents give in to the requests. After all, a puppy would make a great companion, maybe distracting the youngster from his video games for a while, and it just might teach the child some responsibility. But adopting a dog is easy. The hard part is getting the dog to act like the ones in the commercials, and that task becomes even trickier when there are kids involved!
First and foremost, never buy a dog as a toy substitute. Dogs are living, breathing creatures with feelings. Children should be taught this fact from an early age and should be shown how to treat dogs with respect. By adopting a new dog for the right reasons and instilling the right mindset within the children involved, a parent takes the first step in avoiding undesired consequences, such as mistreatment and neglect.
Whenever a parent makes the important decision to bring home a dog for the kids, they should also make the commitment to enroll the dog (and the rest of the family) in a formal training program. Learning how to communicate effectively with your dog in a language he understands, using voice tones and body language, is the first step toward establishing a lasting emotional relationship based on a balance of bond, respect and trust.
Today many homes are raising children along with the family dog. Naturally kids delight in hugging, petting, and playing with their pets. But unfortunately, many children grow up believing that all dogs are gentle and friendly like their pets, and commonly fall victim to a dog attack, simply because they’d never been taught when it’s not okay to approach a dog.
Teaching children the do’s and don’ts regarding animals is among one of the most important lessons you’ll ever teach them. Animals are everywhere and though many are domesticated, this does not automatically make them safe. For example, in the U.S. alone, 1-2 million dog bites occur annually.
Start teaching your children the following safety guidelines regarding dogs when they are quite young, and continue reinforcing these precautions frequently.
- Never run up to a dog.
- Never attempt to touch a neighbor’s dog through a fence.
- Never touch a dog that is growling, showing his teeth, or barking hysterically.
- Young children must never approach dogs without a grown-up’s supervision.
- Always hold your hand out first and allow the dog to sniff your hand.
- Never grab at a dog.
- Don’t approach a dog that is a watch dog protecting his property.
- Never attempt to touch a dog that is eating or in possession of a bone or a treat of some sort.
- Never hurt the animal by pulling it’s tail or fur for example.
- If the dog is leashed, ask the dog’s owner permission to pet the dog first.
- Keep your face away from the dog’s, when approaching or playing with them.
- Don’t make loud noises or sudden moves when approaching a dog. Speak softly to it.
- If a dog is chasing you, stop running, as this encourages him to chase you.
- Avoid eye contact with an aggressive dog, and back off slowly and non-threateningly.
- Do not touch, or attempt to touch, the animal’s eyes.
- Never pet a strange dog, even if his owner is present.
- Stay away from a dog while he is sleeping.
- Stop your bike if chased while riding.
- Never retrieve a ball from someone else’s yard.
- If visiting friends who have dogs, ask them to put their dogs away if you want to play.
- Stay away from a dog that has puppies.
- Never pull a dog’s tail or ears; dogs feel pain, too.
- Never tease a dog or make it angry.
- Stand totally still if a dog runs at you barking. Lock your hands together in front of you. If knocked to the ground by a dog, roll into a ball, cover your face with your arms and stay as still as you possibly can. Do not try to get up.
- Never leave a child or baby alone with a dog. When visiting friends or relatives who have a dog, do not allow your child to play in the yard unsupervised. If that is not possible, ask the owners to put their dog away.
- Do not allow your child to feed a dog unsupervised, as some dogs can be very protective of food. Also, never allow your child to hand-feed your dog; this teaches the dog that is acceptable to take any food from children.
- Do not allow your child to pull on the dog’s collar to lead him outside the house, as he could bite. Children without adult supervision should not be allowed to walk a dog, as the child could be dragged unwittingly into a fight with another dog. Dogs should be taught to respond to verbal commands. However, if the dog does not respond to a verbal command given by the child, correction should be given by the parent, not the child. In fact, under no circumstances should a child ever discipline a dog.
The above tips can help parents create a safe environment for their children and their new dog. In addition, parents should teach their children to be safe around other dogs as well. With some planning and forethought, adopting a dog can be fun—both for parents and children. A dog can provide one of the best forms of companionship possible, teach children some responsibility and bring smiles to all. And by following the above tips and making a commitment to train your dog and grow your emotional bond, you may soon have the dog food companies calling you for a TV spot.
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