Dogs – what to watch for if you have children

It is undisputed that a dog is a wonderful companion, for adults and for children. It’s almost Christmas and many people want to surprise their children with a dog. Such a great idea but please be careful. If you adopt a dog into your family and have children, make sure that they understand that certain behavior, sounds, and certain movements can trigger an animal’s instinct to attack.

First and foremost let me state that newborns and toddlers should NEVER be left alone with ANY dog. Even if your dog knows the child, is a long-time companion, don’t do it. An infant’s cries and coos sound very much like a small, wounded animal in the canine’s ears. A dog’s instinct can take over to consider this “wounded animal” as a food source, and that’s how bites happen.

Even if the family pet has never bitten or attacked, it can all of a sudden become very dangerous to newborns. As horrible as it sounds, please do consider that dogs are driven by their instincts and will bite and shake a baby as if they would do with a prey. If you already have a dog in the house, please be alerted that aggressive behavior between the dogs may occur which may cause even more problems.

The more the baby then cries the more aggressive the animal will become. Tragedies like this happen frequently and often end with the death of the infant and the dog being euthanized. At the very best, if the toddler or newborn survives, excessive plastic surgery is needed. One basic training you should never forget is to immediately train to recall your dog.

Toddlers that move very low to the ground and crawl on the floor/carpet are not to be left unattended with a dog. Because toddlers can’t “tower” above the animal, it will consider the small child ranking beneath it. Dogs live in packs, and “ranking” is natural to them. Someone who is taller than the animal and can “tower” over him, will certainly rank higher than a crawling toddler that is “smaller/lower” than the dog.

More dominant dogs may view children or even other adults as rivals and try to establish a higher “ranking” for themselves. Try to suppress this behavior already at an early age by firmly discouraging it. Teach the dog that all humans are to be considered superior in rank to the animal. If the animal demonstrates problems, read this post and learn what to do!

Screaming and playing kids can also trigger aggressiveness and prey-behavior in the dog. The same applies to rough playing with the animal. If your child/children play rough with the dog, the animal will most likely respond more aggressive and use his teeth. This rough play can be compared to dogs playing with their littermates or other canines. Chained dogs are generally more aggressive, as are many dogs that get startled or are sick or injured.

About 400,000 children are bitten by a dog yearly and need medical attention. Dog bites are dangerous because compared to a cut or other wounds, the bitten area is 15 times more likely to become infected. In 40% of the cases the bite is not just a “scratch on the skin”, it involves tearing skin, muscle and other tissues. Plastic surgeons are doing an incredible job and have very advanced techniques to make scars appear less pronounced or even disappear. Nevertheless, the scars inside a child that has been bitten by a dog will be felt for the rest of their lives.

Please teach your children how to treat a dog, how to play with it, to respect the animal, and not to startle or torture him. And don’t let small children and dogs unattended at any time. Most dog bites/attacks occur by family dogs, dogs that belong to a relative, a neighbor, not by stray animals. Teach your children that a dog is not a toy but an animal with instincts!

Make sure your dog (ANY size, from mini to large!) is properly trained and, depending on age, get your children involved in these training sessions. Let them watch and learn! I hope all will go well with your new dog and that your Christmas will be a Very Happy Christmas!!!

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