Whether we are talking about your own dogs or any dogs that your children may happen to meet, be sure to teach your kids some basic principles of how to behave around dogs. Doing this will make it much less likely that they will suffer a dog bite. No matter what ages your children are, you can teach something in a way appropriate for their level of understanding.
Children may think that they can hug any dog. After all, many dogs are so fluffy and cute! But as you know – even if your children may not – that some dogs really dislike being hugged. Young puppies who may accept being held gently may respond with a nip if a child tries too wild or strong a hug.
Being noisy and unpredictable are natural qualities of children, specially when they get into lively playtimes. This isn’t necessarily the easiest time for your child to be attentive to what you are saying, but they do need to learn that some dogs get frightened or annoyed by their rompings. You may have more success in talking with your child about this at a different time of day.
Teach your children to let sleeping dogs lie. If a child startles a dog awake, it may react without meaning to cause any harm. By the same token, never let children annoy dogs who are eating.
Now, here is a place where the training can go both ways, because it’s also a good idea to train a dog to allow people to be around its food bowl or to come up to eat while it is gnawing on a bone. Teach this first without children present, and begin by adding some food to your dog’s dish. But back to the topic of this article, training children!
Be sure to go over with your children how to act with unfamiliar dogs, specially that they should ask permission before petting or approaching the dog. Also teach them that if a dog does rush at them in a way that scare them, they should stand still, with their arms held in, rather than flailing around and screeching.
If you take your dog to training classes, and if the child is old enough, this is an enjoyable way for kids to interact with dogs, and for everyone to learn something.