One of the fears parents might have of their child and dog living under the same roof is the possibility of the dog trying to hurt the child. Kids are typically energetic and playful but, in some cases, their actions may cause a dog to become defensive and bite. To help build a good relationship between the two without any problems, there are several preventative measures to take to severely decrease the chances of the dog biting the child.
Choose the Dog Carefully
If you are choosing a new dog, it’s important to make sure that the dog is excellent with children. Get him from a reputable place, such as a shelter with a good background, that has spent time evaluating the dog’s behavior and fear triggers. They will be able to identify which dogs will do best with your child, especially when taking into account your child’s age.
The dog needs to get used to the child and vice versa so it is best to introduce them to each other a little at a time, especially initially while you personally evaluate how your dog reacts to the child and other situations in your home. You can keep them in the same room, but separate them and occasionally have them interact. For example, have your child throw the tennis ball for the dog to fetch and bring back. Let your dog sniff your child’s hand and allow your child to pet the dog only while you stand there.
Teach Your Children
It’s important to teach children that dogs aren’t toys and may not react in a friendly manner if treated as such. Inform children what actions may cause dogs to get upset or excitable and try to bite, such as tail pulling, grabbing, running away from him and going toward him with hands showing in an aggressive manner. It’s also important to teach kids to look out for warning signs that the dog might exhibit, such as crouching, ears back, teeth showing and growling.
Teach Your Dog
An untrained dog is often more excitable and difficult to control which means that preventing a situation or trying to control one is going to be a problem. The sooner you train your dog to follow commands such as “come”, “sit”, “stay” and “stop”, the better the chances that he will be more inclined to listen. It’s also important to teach him not to jump or exhibit aggressive behavior, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
Never Leave the Child Unattended
Until older and more responsible, the child should never be left unattended with the dog. If you are watching, you can keep an eye on the actions of the child as well as how the dog is responding and, if something is wrong, you can put a stop to it before the dog tries to bite.
It’s important to keep in mind that one may act in a manner that the other doesn’t understand, which may lead to aggression. Whether the dog tries to bite out of play or to defend itself, doing a good amount of training and teaching can help prevent problems. The bond between a child and dog can be a wonderful thing and, with proper teaching, the relationship can grow beautifully.