Introducing Children and Dogs.
The incidence of dogs attacking children is great enough to be a cause for fear for parents and care givers, where ever dogs are present.
The “British Express News”, May 28th 2015, headlines read ” Dog Attacks Land More than 1000 British children in Hospital each year” It further reported that “…with children under 9 years being the largest group of dog attack victims”
The safety between children and dogs is a major concern, so great, that we need to recognise the fact that all children should be taught the basics regarding approaching dogs.
It is accepted that dog owners have a responsibility to make sure that their animals are trained properly, and able to cohabitate with all others.
Regardless of the dog training, the training of children is paramount to ensure that as much as possible they learn the basics of interacting with dogs. This applies whether there are dogs within the family home or not.
Here are some simple Tips that I have listed, to assist parents and care givers .
If you are aware of a dogs body language, be prepared to make use of this knowledge, therefore be able to anticipate and be prepared for a dogs response to an encounter.
Approach When approaching a dog, always ask the dog owner if you and your child may approach the dog. If the owner declines, be gracious and move away. The dog may be anxious or fearful of strangers.
- Teach children to approach dogs in a quiet unrushed way, holding their hand out with palm downwards. Dog can sniff the back of hand and both child and dog can settle.
- No running, shouting – may alarm dog
- always encourage children to be gentle in their movements and voice. Loud noise and quick movement can agitate a dog
- Do not move in to cuddle a dog until the dog gives some indication that he is comfortable in the situation. Rather, err on the side of caution and eventually pat a dog instead.
- Being fearful can belong to either party. Don’t insist that one or the other make the move to friendship until there is a totally relaxed acceptance by both dog and child
- Teach children to respect all dogs and other pets as well. Respect – to acknowledge that dogs etc, have a place in our lives too.
Children Running Away:
- NEVER run away from a dog. Running away can trigger the “Hunter/Prey” response which is natural in dogs, and may have totally unexpected and unwanted results!
Lone Roaming Dog – No Owners in Sight:
- Avoid any dogs that are without a leash and owner – a dog on its own!
- Don’t approach- note the demeanor of the dog -its stance -whether it looks or is behaving in an aggressive manner. If you feel threatened/uncomfortable, remain still. Ask anyone with you to also be still and quiet. If you feel confident, instruct the dog in a steady firm voice to “Sit or Stay or Go Home!”. DO NOT ATTEMPT any further contact, including eye contact. Dogs feel threatened when eye contact is made and maintained. Very quietly back away from the dog. If the dog snaps, snarls or advances, remain still. Put hands behind back, simply to remove a perceived threat by the dog, continue to avoid eye contact.
- Drop to ground in a crouching position with face and front of body to the ground, Cover face with hands and shout for help.
- Never get between a dog and his food. Dogs are inclined to be aggressive if their food supply is interfered with.
Finally, the most important piece of information is:
NEVER EVER LEAVE A CHILD OR YOUNG PERSON ALONE WITH A DOG, TETHERED OR OTHERWISE.