Dogs and children are a perfect fit. They are what fond memories are made of and part of a joyful childhood. But sometimes tragedy does strike. What should you do to prevent an accidental attack?
The first caution for parents is to NEVER leave very young children (pre-school age - under six) left unattended with a dog. If you trust your dog then you likely do not believe that the dog will suddenly choose to attack. However, the dog is not much different than a small child itself. If a dog is unintentionally harmed or feels threatened it may bite in self-defense, just as small children may push or scratch another child when they feel threatened. Do not subject your dog or child to possible harm by leaving them alone to play. Your dog is not an adult. Always supervise dogs and children and you will be preventing a problem from occurring.
Discourage your children from hugging and kissing their dog as most bites to the face happen this way.
Regardless of the age of your children you should discourage roughhousing with the dog. Some of the larger breeds can generally handle rougher play, such as Newfoundlands and Boxers, without becoming agitated. Other large breeds may become irritated by ear pulling, grabbing and other play and accidentally harm your child. Large breeds may even knock over a small child unintentionally.
On the other hand, smaller breeds sometimes hurt children because they feel threatened by overly affectionate mauling or fear being stepped on. In these cases they may bite or scratch in an effort to protect themselves from harm. It is recommended that roughhousing should be discouraged with all breeds.
You should seriously consider fully training any dog you choose as a family pet. While some trainers may feel that the owner is adequately qualified to take on this task, you may wish to consider having your dog professionally trained if possible.
Incorrect training can actually lead to behavior problems. Owning a fully-trained dog will give you the peace of mind you are looking for when selecting a pet for your children.
These are just some of the points to consider when bringing a dog home for your children. By taking the time to understand and learn about dogs before bringing one home, you are more likely to find the life-long friend your children deserve!