sleepy bulldogs and little girl

If you have young children and you’re considering purchasing a new puppy, then teaching your children how to behave around dogs and puppies is essential for both their safety and the dog’s. Toddlers and small children have an unintentional tendency to encourage puppies to play fight, bite and chase. This is a charming characteristic when your puppy is little, but will soon become an undesirable trait the bigger they get. To understand how to keep both your children and your puppy safe from each other, then here is our guide on child safety around dogs. We must emphasise how important it is to never leave a child under four alone with a dog or a puppy, even if they’re a family pet.

Teaching Child Safety Around Dogs

To effectively teach your children to stay safe around dogs and puppies, you have to understand dog behaviour. Reading dog body language is a skill children need to be taught so that they are fully aware of the do’s and don’t’s; children can easily misinterpret the subtle body language communicated by dogs.

Both children and dogs lack patience, so it is vital to teach them both how to be gentle with each other. Teach your child that if the dog licks his lips, yawns or deliberately looks away, they are telling you they do not want to be touched. If your dog’s tail is either upright or wagging slowing, this usually means they are on high alert. Children should be taught to approach them with caution or avoid them entirely when displaying these signals. Children should also be taught never to approach a dog when they are eating; the dog will expect the child to want their food and consequently, act defensively. For more information on understanding canine body language, watch this YouTube video.

little boy feeding puppy

Dog Biting

It is important to remember never to entirely trust your dog not to bite a child. If subjected to the right circumstances, even the most placid dog can become aggressive and attack. Most dog biting incidents happen in the home purely because individuals are unaware of how to prevent conflicts. Here are some reasons why your dog might bite:

  • They feel trapped with no way out
  • Overexcitement
  • Protecting themselves, their food or their property
  • Something or someone has surprised them
  • They’re in pain

It is essential to correctly identify when your dog is exhibiting any of these signs and teach your children how also to recognise when to avoid approaching them. Make sure children know never to confront the dog when they are eating, sleeping, has a toy, has puppies, is hiding, under furniture, injured or sick. This will minimise the risks of misinterpretations.

happy girl and her dog

Teaching Safe Handling Tips

  • Teach your children not to play rough games with the dog. It is especially important to avoid these games when they are puppies as it will only encourage aggressive behaviour later on.
  • Do not let your children taunt or tease the puppy as this can lead to serious backfiring situations.
  • Encourage your children to call the dog or puppy over as opposed to directly approaching them, providing the dog with the option to decline or accept your child’s invitation.
  • Promote gentle stroking at all times rather than heavy patting, grabbing or pulling which will only aggravate the dog.
  • If you have a young puppy, make sure not to let your children disturb him when he’s sleeping. Puppies need lots of sleep, and if they are regularly interrupted it can affect their behaviour.
  • A lot of dogs dislike close face to face contact, so discourage your children from doing this.
  • Teach your puppy from a young age not to mouth your clothes or skin. This implies to the dog that gentle biting of skin or clothes is acceptable, which it is not. Encourage using a dog toy or chew as an alternative

happy girl and her puppies

Teaching Children How to Approach Unfamiliar Dogs Safely

Always teach your children to ask the owner’s permission before approaching an unfamiliar dog. They should then approach the dog slowly offering their hand so the dog can sniff the back of it. If the dog accepts your invitation to be stroked, you can then gently pat their chest or rub under their chin.

Make sure to make your children aware, that if a strange dog accosts them, they should stand still, arms by their side and eyes looking towards the floor. They should stay still and quiet until the dog loses interest. Dogs will often react to shrieking children, so teaching them to remain calm around unacquainted dogs can help your child to stay safe. Inform children that if they are knocked over by a dog, they should roll into a ball, face towards the ground, cover their face with their hand and stay completely silent.

little girl with her puppy

Childproofing Your Dog

Not only do you need to train your child how to handle the dog, but you need to make sure your dog knows their boundaries; allowing them to interact with each other safely.

The most critical aspect of childproofing your dog is making sure they’re obedient. With children in your home, ensuring you have a well-behaved puppy is one of the first steps to securing their safety. Make sure your puppy knows basic commands before you teach them how to behave around small children. For professional help, we suggest attending a few initial puppy classes. This will also help with social interactions. It is also essential not to allow your dog to jump up when saying hello. Puppies who jump up will become fully grown big dogs and can cause injury to small children.

Nevertheless, make sure not to always dwell on the negatives. If your puppy is behaving well around your children, make sure to give them lots of praise, attention and treats. Your puppy will soon learn how to act around children when they receive plenty of positive reinforcement. If your puppy is exhibiting any signs of anxiety in the first few weeks, keep your children at a distance. Allow your dog plenty of time to adjust and get used to the nature of children to avoid any damaging initial encounters.

boy and his dog in the sunset

Summary

Making sure both your child and your dog is safe in each other’s company is essential. Having a dog is a great way of teaching children how to care for animals and giving them a responsibility of their own. However, it is the duty of the responsible adults to make sure the interactions between a young child and a dog is safe and thoroughly supervised. If you are looking for puppies for sale in Milton Keynes, get in touch with our team today to see all of the new dogs we have available. If you have enjoyed this article or found it useful in any way, please give it a share on your social channels.

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