What Children MUST Learn About Dogs

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What Children MUST Learn About Dogs

by Sharon Jacobsen

It's a sad fact that dogs do bite children. Luckily, fatalities are few; Statistically something like 1 in 5 million dogs deliver a fatal bite. Sadly, over two thirds of fatalities involve children. However, fatal or not, a dog bite is painful and can leave both mental and physical scars, many of which could have been avoided had the child been educated to behave sensibly around dogs.

1. Never leave ANY dog alone with a child under 9 years old regardless of how well the dog and child know one another. Statistics show that children between 5 and 9 are the most vulnerable. Children often challenge or injure dogs unintentionally and the results could be tragic, for either part.

2. Children should NEVER be allowed to approach any dog that he doesn't know well without the owner's permission. If permission's given, the child should offer the dog a clenched fist to smell. Yes, contrary to popular belief ? that a dog should be offered a relaxed hand ? a fist protects fingers from potential bites and it matters not to dog how the hand is presented. After all, dogs have no understanding of how fists may be used (unless they've been punched in the past ? although this is highly unlikely as animal abusers rarely punch).

3. Children should NEVER be allowed to hug a dog. Most dogs dislike like being hugged, they simply tolerate it from their pack members (as long as those members are higher ranking than the dog itself). A few dogs that are naturally submissive will tolerate hugging from anybody but children should never take the risk.

4. Dogs should be removed from the room when children are eating (this includes snacks) so that he doesn't learn to steal from small hands.

5. Children should be taught to not wave their arms or toys and similar in front of the dog as he may try to "take them" with his teeth. In other words, this is an open invitation for the dog to bite.

6. Children should NEVER be allowed to put their face close to a dog's face as this can be perceived as threatening. It's also important that children approach the dog from the side and not directly from the front.

7. Children should be taught that a dog's toys, food or bones should never be taken from him. Dogs will sometimes bite to protect what they perceive as "theirs".

8. Children should be taught to NEVER run past a dog and most definitely NOT to scream as they pass him. Running and screaming, especially when together, can easily trigger a dog's prey drives ? a chemical reaction rather than a conscious decision ? with frightening results.

9. If the dog is being kept in a fenced garden, it's imperative that children have no way of teasing him, whether intentionally or otherwise. It's not unusual for children to goad a dog to bark, and to find it exciting when he snarls through the fence at them. After all, they feel safe on the other side and "it's just a game". They may also throw things at him or try to otherwise scare him away from the fence. The end result of a dog that's teased by children is that he will learn to distrust children. This can there further manifest itself into a fear of and aggression towards children. Sadly, this is a situation that so often ends with a child being bitten and the dog being taken to a re-homing centre (if he's lucky).

10. NEVER tie a dog outside shops or in the garden. Often while trying to be nice to dogs, children actually tease them. This can lead to the dog feeling threatened followed by aggressive behaviour.

11. Dogs should be given a place that is their own. This could be a room, a crate, the dog's bed or just a corner of the room that everybody respects as his private area. Children should then be taught to NEVER bother the dog when he's in his private place. This gives the dog the chance to retreat if he's feeling stressed by the over boisterous or loud children, rather than needing to use his jaws in order to "get his message across".

12. Finally, children should be taught that, should they be knocked down by a dog, to quickly curl into a ball and lay very still, as if playing dead. Whatever happens, they MUST NOT try to run away from the dog as this will serve only to heighten its natural instinct to chase and catch prey.

If children are taught to respect dogs and behave appropriately around them, the bond that can grow between a child and a dog is one that's truly marvellous to witness. When children and dogs have mutual respect for one another, fewer children will be bitten and fewer dogs will lose their lives through what was, more often than not, really no fault of their own.


Sharon Jacobsen has owned and trained dogs for almost forty years, during which time she's built up an understanding of how dogs think, their behaviour patterns, and how they respond to training.

If you'd like Sharon to write competitively priced, engaging articles on any aspect of canine management for your website, e-zine or any other media, please visit http://www.sharon-jacobsen.co.uk for more information.

Sharon Jacobsen - EzineArticles Expert Author

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