Dogs are seen as beloved family members worldwide. Most dogs would never even dream of biting or injuring anyone in their household, especially children, which most dogs love to be around. Yet research shows that young children are at a greater risk from injury resulting from dog bites, than any other age group. Young children are known to treat dogs as playmates and this frequent and close contact can be dangerous at times. The majority of dog bites occur in the home environment while children play with (- cuddling, hitting, kicking, squeezing, massaging, riding, sitting on, tickling, hugging and pulling ears and tails of) their beloved pet dog. Research also shows that young children are not good at understanding the body language of dogs. Children more often than not look at the face of their pet dog and have difficulty in distinguishing between fear and friendliness. However there are ways to avoid any bite from happening. After all no dog is born aggressive, and properly socialized should feel no need to bite anyone in their household, as long as they don't feel threatened. These days there are many dog bite prevention programmes aimed at teaching children how to behave around dogs, and how to understand them better. Prevention starts at home…and the first step is to educate the parents to create a safe environment for cohabitation between children and dogs. It is important to focus first and foremost on teaching not only children but their parents as well on how to recognize and understand those situations which can be potentially dangerous in a household. The most obvious example, is a dog's need for it's own den, 'a place of it's own'. They should a place in the house, usually where they sleep or relax, that should not be invaded. A common source of aggressive behaviour from dogs comes from when their personal area has been invaded! Another key point is to be certain your child is ready for a new dog and understands what it means to have a dog in the house. Even a young child should share in the responsibility to look after a dog, and can be a great source of learning for the child.
safe interaction between children and dogs
If you have young children as well as dogs in your home, it is highly advisable for you to look up organisations which can help you teach your children about their canine playmates. Because this is more complex than one would think, a team of behavioral veterinarians, Pediatricians, child psychologists and teachers form the Netherlands have united to tackle this seemingly innocent, yet very grave problem. There are now organizations in Australia and the UK as well. Look up these organisations in your country and make an effort. After all it is about the development of you child and the safe handling of your dogs as well. However, it is also important to note that rules are meant to be broken, as children would like to believe and therefore increased knowledge does not necessarily increase behavioral intelligence. Ultimately efficient parental supervision is what is needed as a basis and this –together with correct and ongoing education- can lead to long term results. Good luck! Euro Puppy supports the safe interaction between children and dogs!