Of course, dogs also benefit from having human siblings but it’s important to remember that dogs are living beings. They are complicated, emotional creatures that if not treated respectfully can growl, nip or even bite to communicate how they are feeling.
Remember, all dogs can bite.
This includes the family dog that sleeps with the toddler every single night, it includes the dog that has been professionally trained and has never so much as sneered at the neighborhood cat, it includes the dog that is six pounds and the dog that is 130 pounds.
When a dog growls, nips, or bites, it’s probable that you already missed the many signals that that the dog was exhibiting to show that he/she was uncomfortable. In fact, we often miss or ignore our dog’s less aggressive communication because it is very subtle.
Remember dog’s do not ‘speak’ the way we do, rather they use subtle change in body language to indicate stress and change in emotion.
A few of the most common cues an anxious or stressed dog might exhibit include:
Whale eyes occur when you can see the half moon whites of your dog’s eyes when you’re handling him, feeding him, playing with him, or cuddling him. This is a clear indicator that your dog is anxious or uncomfortable.
Lip Licking or Yawning
Lip licking or yawning is another sign that a dog is anxious or uncomfortable. These are easy signs to miss if you aren’t aware of them, but once you realize what these signals mean you will start to notice every time your dog uses them.
When your dog turns his head away or avoids looking at you, you dog is using a calming signal. This means that your dog is trying to avoid conflict in this particular situation and would rather not engage with you at this time.
When a dog walks away, it’s best to give him his space. Like people, dogs may need breaks from play, attention, or physical touch, and it’s important to respect your dog’s boundaries.
Shaking off is your dog’s way of “shaking off” that anxiety he had built up from what was likely a stressful situation. Try and pay attention to what causes your dog to ‘shake off’ and work with our child/the environment to avoid putting your dog in those situations in the future.
Childhood Behaviors That Commonly Lead To Dog Bites
Children love to kiss and hug their dogs to show affection. While some dogs may tolerate this, it’s best to teach children that dogs generally do not like being hugged or kissed.
Some Common Behaviors In Children That Can Increase The Risk Of A Dog Bite Include:
- Children taking a dog’s toy or bone away
- Children invading a dog’s space while he is eating
- Children physically waking or pestering a dog while he is sleeping
- Children climbing on, pulling on, sitting on, poking, pinching, hitting or kicking a dog
- Children hugging a dog
- Children teasing a dog with toys, food or a treat
- Children scolding a dog
- Children screaming, running or roughhousing around a dog or with a dog
- Children kissing a dog
- Children putting their face directly in a dog’s face
Kid and Dog Safety – How Children Can Safely Interact With Familiar Dogs
Remember, most dog bites on children occur in the home or with a familiar dog the child knows.
Familiar dogs include but are not limited to your family dog, an extended family member’s dog, a friend’s dog, and your neighborhood dogs.
- Be respectful of your dog’s body
- Pet your dog gently on the chest, shoulders or base of the neck
- Allow your dog to walk away once he’s had enough
- If your dog doesn’t want to snuggle or play, that’s okay!
- Be gentle, calm and quiet around your dog
- Play appropriate games with your dog like fetch and hide and avoid games that involve a lot of physical contact with your dog.
- Dogs don’t like hugs or kisses. Try blowing your dog a kiss instead or kissing your hand and petting your dog with that kissed hand from his collar to tail.
- Respect your dog’s space: don’t bother your dog when he’s sleeping or eating and don’t take his things away from him. Dogs don’t always like to share.
- If you do need to take something from your dog trade him for something yummy like a treat.
Kid and Dog Safety – How Children Can Safely Behave Around Strange Dogs
It’s sometimes easier to protect your children when it comes to the dogs in your own home. You know your dog better than anyone, especially when you’ve taken the time to understand canine body language and learn how your dog communicates.
But what happens when a strange dog approaches your child.
If your child is approached by a strange dog or a dog that seems threatening, instruct your child to follow the below tips:
- Stand still
- Tuck your arms in tight
- Turn away
- Look down
- Wait calmly until the dog leaves
Your role in keeping your child safe around your family dog.
Remember, you are your dog’s voice and it’s up to you to help keep your kids and your dog safe around one another. (https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-girl-sitting-beside-black-dog-4453089/)
Along with helping your child understand the importance of kid and dog safety, it’s also important you take time to understand your part in the process as well.
Avoid Investing In A Dog With Behavioral Issues If You Already Have Children
Like people, dogs can struggle with mental health and it is possible for dogs to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Dogs who have experienced trauma in their lives and have a history of fear-based aggression are generally not a safe dog for families.
These dogs typically do best with educated owners equipped to handle dogs with special needs who can help keep that dog safe, healthy and happy.
Always Supervise Young Children Around The Family Dog
Never leave your child unsupervised with a dog. If you are busy, be sure that the dog is separated from the child either by keeping the dog and child in separate rooms, by letting your dog play outside while your child is inside, or by investing in a baby gate or playpen to help add a divide between a child and a dog.
Have A Good Understanding Of Canine Body Language
When teaching your children kid and dog safety, it’s going to be important to have a basic understanding of canine body language.
Do as much research as possible when it comes to dog body language and canine communication. Try and learn as much as you can about your specific dog and how he communicates.
Give Your Dog A Safe Space Inside Your House
No matter how fun-loving, affectionate, sweet, or gentle your dog is with your child, chances are he will still need breaks and space.
Provide your dog with a space that is all his own and teach children that when your dog goes to this space he is to be left alone. It’s okay to respect your dog’s personal space and alone time, and it’s important for children to respect it too.
Use Positive Reinforcement Techniques During Training And Lead By Example
Your children are watching you.
Treat your dog exactly as you want your children to treat your dog. Be gentle and use positive reinforcement training techniques to teach your dog the behaviors that you want.
Physical or harsh punishments often lead to a dog that is fearful of you, and a dog that is fearful is a dog that is much more likely to bite.
If you need help learning to read your dog or instill some positive reinforcement training into your home don’t hesitate to reach out to our trainers at Good Dog Spot. We also teach a great Kid and Dog Safety program.