Safety And Health Concerns Should Be Considered When
Mixing Dogs and Children
Every family has experiences and priorities when it comes to adding a dog to their family. There can be situations when getting a dog is not the right thing to do. So how do you know when and when not to mix children with dogs?
DOGS AND KIDS - WHEN NOT TO MIX:
Dogs and children always gives one the perfect impression of a happy union. This is not always the case.
If a child has previously suffered dog bites in the past, it may not be wise to get a dog or puppy to help them overcome their fear of them.
If as a parent you are not committed to the care of a dog, assuming your children will do the work to learn responsibility, getting a family puppy or dog is not always a good scenario.
Children can help with feeding, bathing and grooming, however, the primary care should always come from a responsible adult. Don't give in to the child's plea for a dog unless you can commit yourself first! Raising a puppy requires the time and committment just as raising a child. Do you have the time? If the answer is no, don't get a puppy. An adult dog is a better choice and may already be trained.
SAFETY CONCERNS WHEN MIXING DOGS AND KIDS
Preventing Dog Bites
Children are generally at eye level for many dog breeds, leaving their faces the most susceptible for most dog bites. Dog bites do not cause permanent physical damage, however, the psychological effects can cause the child to have a fear of dogs for life. Parents should teach both dog and children the rules of behavior.
Oftentimes, dogs will bite to assert dominance over a child as he would do with other dogs. Dogs are pack animals that need to know where they stand in the family hierarchy. They quickly learn that adults are leaders of their 'pack', but often assume they have dominance over children. When children are at eye level, this makes them vulnerable to dog bites. Learn about alpha dog and how it relates to your family's hierarchy.
Along with their height, children also have unpredictable actions and a high squeaky voice that may trigger dogs to attact as a defense response. Taking your dog to obedience training can help the dog to learn that biting is not acceptable when relinquishing toys or food if a human takes them.
Children and Strange Dogs
The earlier you teach your children to be cautious and not pet or approach the strange dogs they encounter while out playing, the better. They should understand not to stare at them as some strange dogs may perceive this as aggression on the child's part.
Should any strange dog approach them, teach your child to
stand still. They could never outrun a dog. Running away may provoke an
attack because the dog may view them as prey. Should the worst happen
it is wise to let your child know they should roll up into a ball and
cover their neck and face and pretend to play dead until help comes.
Remember, dogs have a pack and prey instinct. Should they ever feel
threatened they may act on these instincts.
This information is not meant to scare any new dog owner, however an ounce of prevention is always something to consider. Always exercise caution around strange dogs, especially those that are staked. Any staked dog can become aggressive.
Children must learn to respect dogs and dogs need to learn not to bite. Consideration for a dog's space may include leaving the dog alone when eating or sleeping. Children are often in a teasing nature and should never poke, or rough-house with the dog to encourage nipping. It is wise to never leave the two unsupervised.
HEALTH CONCERNS WHEN MIXING DOGS AND KIDS
All dog breeds can carry roundworms and hookworms and
cause health concerns.
These dog parasites can be transmitted to humans. Humans can contract these worms from dogs by ingesting contaminated canine fecal dog matter. Since children are not always careful about hygiene, they may bring it to their mouth after handling fecal matter or touching areas infected by fecal matter. Regular vaccinations and de-worming your dog can help reduce the risk of getting roundworms and hookworms. Cleaning up after your dog's eliminations in the yard where children do their most playing is a very helpful way for preventing parasites.
Responsibilities of owning and raising a dog ultimately falls on the parents. Children will most likely want to help, and with the supervision of the parents, a successful union of kids and their dogs can be a happy experience. For dogs that work out best with families with children be sure to choose one of these child friendly dog breeds.