Each year, about 4.5 million people get bitten by dogs. The statistics from CDC doesn’t put dogs in a good light although they do not tell the whole story. Given how dangerous dogs can be in the hands of uneducated owners, it is important to take precautions when dealing with canines more so when you have kids.
Babies, in particular, can interact with your pups but you need to take safety measures. In a way, dogs can act like babies. No matter how much your pet loves you, they can hurt your child without meaning it.
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Why Children and Dogs Don’t Mix Well All the Time
Children are unpredictable creatures. One moment they are all smiles, the next moment your baby is on the floor throwing a tantrum. While parents understand that children will act their age, dogs don’t.
From your pet’s point of view, a sudden change in behavior can be threatening. Your child’s way of showing affection can also be scary to a pet. Kids might tug your dog’s tail or hug them suddenly and your dogs can react by instinct. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this problem and to find a middle ground where your child and pet can live harmoniously
Children face the greatest risk of being bitten by dogs. At an early age, you need to train both your kids and your dogs to act accordingly. Here are some tips on how to make it happen.
1. Unsupervised Interaction Should Never Happen
“Prevention is always better than cure.”
Rather than suffer from the consequences, do not allow your baby and your dog to play when you are not around. When no one can keep a close eye on what your baby and dog is up to, leave your baby inside the nursery.
Even before you bring your baby home, use baby gates to keep your dog away from the nursery. Train your dog that your baby’s room is off limits. You can do this while you are still expecting by never allowing your pet to get inside unless you give your permission.
If your dogs are allowed to go in and out of the nursery, your baby could be in danger. Although your dogs may not be aggressive, it is better to stay on the side of caution. Data reveals, fatal infant bites often happen with sleeping babies. Hence, keeping pups away from your child’s turf is a good idea.
Since babies and dogs can both act in an unpredictable manner, it’s never a good idea to leave the two together. Remember, many things can happen in just a few seconds.
2. Always Use Positive Reinforcement
Punishment is never a good idea where dogs are concerned. When you have a baby at home, you need to be careful with how you are treating your pet.
If your dog does something which could endanger your child, teach your dog a lesson by using rewards for good behavior. Dogs can associate punishments with the baby if you do this all the time. As much as possible, you need to make your pet feel good when your baby is around.
Using treats to make sure your dog behaves is a good start. While on the subject of proper behavior, be sure your dog gets to train for at least 10 minutes on a daily basis.
3. Teach Your Baby How to Be Cautious Around Dogs
Kids are naturally playful. Hence, kids often treat dogs the way they deal with you and their playmates. This can be avoided if you teach them not to touch or pet strange dogs even if you have a perfectly docile canine at home.
While most kids are bitten by dogs that live with them or they are familiar with, it is still important to teach them to be cautious with new pets. Teach them a lesson not to approach any dog unless you permit them to do so.
Another lesson to teach your youngsters is to stop taunting a dog. Dogs might see the child as a threat and attack them in self-defense.
4. Give Dogs Their “Me” Time
Just like humans, dogs need some time by themselves too. You should know this by now. This is also something you need to emphasize to your baby.
When kids are looking for someone to play with, your dog may be the best candidate. Having a pup for a playmate is cool but kids need to respect your dog’s mood too. When teaching kids, emphasize how important it is to allow dogs to come to them.
When your pet is not in the mood, don’t encourage rowdy behavior like ambushing the dog or forcing it to play. When you use force to push dogs to play when all they want is some peace and quiet, your pet might display aggressive behavior.
Asking a dog’s permission to play or pet it is a valuable lesson. Unless your child learns to respect your dog, they might not get along with each other.
5. Train Kids To Keep Their Toys
Kids love playing especially when they have new toys. There can be some complications when they leave their toys on the floor. Kids can be as territorial as dogs are and when toys are on the floor when your dog comes in, they might get the urge to look and play with the baby’s toy.
No matter how clean your dogs are, you do not want them to lick on baby’s toys when your child has the tendency to put their toys in their mouths too. Aside from that, when your baby sees your dog playing with his or her toy, they might get into a fight.
The last thing you want to see is your child and your dog fighting over a toy. A friendly fight over a toy can turn violent and this could cause your child and dog to hurt each other. When your pet becomes defensive, it might bite your child due to anger.
At the same time, your child’s toys can be a health hazard to your dog too. Just like children, animals eat things especially small items like a toy. You might find yourself making constant trips to the vet’s office because your pet swallowed your child’s toy again
Rather than deal with the inconvenience, it would be better to school your child to stash their baby toys away. If your kid is too young to do it, teach them by example. Do not leave those items behind.
Living with a child and a dog can be challenging since you have two charges to keep in mind all the time. Ensuring your baby and your pet can live together requires a keen eye and a firm hand. Data reveals most dog bites are unprovoked and it happens in a familiar place like your home.
From your perspective, nothing untoward may have happened, but your dog might think otherwise. Always be on the lookout for signs of aggression.
Any unusual behavior could indicate that something is wrong with your canine friend. Half-moon eyes or a raised paw are not good signs too.
Face to face encounters with dogs is never a good idea. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution. Having a dog should be an enjoyable experience, not a horrible one and you need to take responsibility to make that happen.