By PETbc Childrens Education Department
It is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of both your child (from toddler to teen) and the family dog when they interact.
Here are ten important rules to follow when children and dogs are together:
- Supervision: Always supervise interactions between children and dogs. Never leave them alone together, even if you think the dog is well-behaved and loves the child.
- Teach Gentle Touch: Teach your child to interact gently with the dog. Show them how to pet the dog without poking or pulling fur, ears or tail.
- Respect Personal Space: Teach your child to respect the dog’s personal space. Dogs need their own time and space to rest or eat without disturbance.
- No Rough Play: Discourage rough play, such as wrestling or chasing, between your child and the dog. It can lead to accidents or fear in the dog.
- Teach Basic Obedience: Teach your dog basic obedience like “sit” ,“down”, “stay” and “leave it”. This helps maintain control in situations involving the child so you can communicate with the dog.
- Supervise Feeding: If the dog and child are present during mealtime, ensure they’re at a safe distance. Dogs can become possessive of food.
- Provide a Safe Space: Give the dog a designated safe space where they can retreat if they need a break from the child. Make sure your child understands this space is off-limits.
- No Sudden Movements: Encourage your child to avoid sudden movements or loud noises around the dog, which can startle or scare them.
- Watch for Stress Signs: Learn to recognize signs of stress or discomfort in your dog, such as growling, snapping or hiding. If you notice these signs, separate the dog and child immediately.
- Teach Responsibility: As your child gets older, teach them responsibility for the dog’s care. This could include feeding, grooming and walking under adult supervision.
Remember that each dog is unique and what works for one may not work for another. Always consider your dog’s temperament, age, and previous experiences when implementing these rules. It is crucial to foster a positive and safe environment for both your child and your canine companion.
If you have any concerns about your dog’s behaviour around your child, consult with a canine behaviourist from the Canine & Feline Behaviour Association www.cfba.uk