Dogs and Children

  • By Kathy McRoberts
  • 05 Aug, 2011

Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience


It’s the perfect image really. A dog and his boy; running through a creek or puddles of water together, spending quiet time sitting side-by-side gazing at the ocean; wet noses, sandy feet and lots of shared giggles. And that perfect image is in fact achievable when you pair a dog that is great with kids and a child who understands the proper way to move and be with a dog.

What is the perfect kid dog? Nobody’s perfect and there is no perfect breed for kids really. It’s about the individual temperament. Not too long ago everyone thought the Pit bull was the perfect nanny dog. The Pit bull was the image of the perfect dog for kids in TV shows like The Little Rascals. Just like some people should probably never have kids, some dogs just shouldn’t be living with young children. A dog needs to have a large supply of patience and tolerance to be considered good with kids. You don’t want a dog to be so protective that they protect your child from their friends. The dog should have a stable personality which means they get along well with others; other dogs, other people, other kids. They won’t have any phobias or major areas of anxiety. And they will be well trained and have great manners both inside and outside the home. (Of course I was going to mention training!;-))

And kids need to be taught how to behave properly around not only their dog, but other dogs as well. Number 1 Rule for Kids and Dogs: Never leave a young child and a dog unattended. Children are learning how to interpret body language from their own species let alone learning to read dogs’ body language. Hopefully with some help from their parents and other adults, all children can learn how to empathize with others including the family pet. But it takes a while to get good at it. One example of a cue that is often missed is when a dog that has had enough of any interactions tries to move away from the child and that child continues to follow the dog around the room or house trying to get the dog to engage. The first thing most dogs will do when they are uncomfortable or want to stop any engagement is attempt to move away from the situation. Young children may be more concerned about what they want and fail to notice that the dog has become uncomfortable. You might see the dog give a big yawn. Whenever a dog yawns and they are not tired, it’s called a stress yawn and is an indication that the dog is not comfortable with whatever is going on. The next warning sign (hopefully) will be a little growl. That should definitely have parents scurrying to stop the interaction and then help the child see where they missed the earlier warning signs. In addition to reading body language and cues that a dog has had enough attention, they need to be taught the obvious stuff as well, like they can’t jump on the dog or pull its ears or mess with their pup when it’s eating or chewing a bone. These are all situations that bring on the highest number of bites for children. When children are playing with a dog, the adults need to be familiar with and looking for signs of stress from their dog.

Children without dogs in their homes should also be taught how to behave around animals. Someday they are going to have to interact with someone’s pet. It can be a tricky thing to teach a child to not fear dogs and yet at the same time, teach them they can’t just assume all dogs are nice to young people. Young children also have a tendency to run away from a situation they are unsure of, and that can lead a dog to give chase! Dogs will naturally run after something that is running away from them. This can cause the child to scream which can really cause a dog to become escalated. Even the most friendly pooch in the world can become extremely escalated when something is screaming and running away from them. It is important to teach a child to remain calm around dogs that they don’t know and to let an adult know with a calm voice if they are uncomfortable and don’t want the dog to approach them. You can show them yourself how a dog will react to different behaviors. Show them what the dog does if you remain calm and then run away and show how the dog will give chase. Some kids need a visual to better understand. If they are excited to meet a dog, they should be taught not to approach that dog until they have asked the owner if it is ok.

Kids and dogs can be pretty cute together and that relationship can be one that a child carries with them throughout their lifetime as long as some safety measures are in place. For more information, please feel free to contact me any time.

 

Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
www.UnleashedCanineObedience.com  
IACP Member #3141
Phone: 513.317.7484




Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

By Pets in Need 16 Oct, 2017
Heartworm is a serious, potentially fatal disease for our pets. Prevention is easy, but treatment can be costly and difficult depending on the stage of the disease. Pets In Need veterinarian and board member, Dr. Jack Walkenhorst discusses the importance of heartworm prevention.
By Pets in Need 02 Oct, 2017

Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.

If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from   kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular   heart disease   can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.

By Pets in Need 18 Sep, 2017
Many people are afraid of pet insurance because of the issues associated with human health care, but the systems are very different. In the human managed health care system insurance companies make agreements with networks and the insured person has little to no say. Because of the way human managed care works, insurance companies have a lot of control over which doctors humans can use, what services they can receive, and how much they have to pay. Conversely, in the pet insurance market, pet owners have more control because pet insurance is an individual contract between the pet owner and insurance company. Pet insurance companies can’t tell pet owners what network of veterinarians to use and decisions about the care of a pet remain entirely between the veterinarian and pet owner. All the pet insurance companies do is pay out their portion of care as detailed in the policy or contract.
By West Chester Pet Resort & Spa 20 Jun, 2017
Now that summer is just around the corner, family vacations are about to be in full swing. While traveling with your pet certainly has its benefits, there are things that you need to know before jet-setting with Fluffy in tow.

First and foremost, having your pet as your co-pilot completely alleviates the worry of who is going to care for them while you're away. This question is always an anxiety for pet owners. The option of traveling with them is especially beneficial if your pet has behavioral issues such as separation anxiety.

Crating your pet while driving to your destination is never a bad option. They're confined and safe, and you as the driver are less distracted. Just be sure to remove collars and leashes to prevent a strangling incident and keep the air flow on them.

If your pet has never been crated, you can find a great video here  by "Dog Guru" Cesar Milan on tome tips and tricks to crate training.

While the car is in motion, feeding your dog is one big "Don't!" If you are on an extended road trip and your pet needs a meal, the next time you stop, feed a small snack- preferably high in protein. And remember to never leave your furry friend in the car, especially during these warm months!

Now, traveling with your pet in an airplane is a much more complicated process as you will more than likely want to book a direct flight. Communicating with the airline prior to travel dates is absolutely imperative. Many airlines have strict regulations for canine and feline travel and their regulations may vary based on the airline and the destination.

However you decide to travel, always remember that if you are taking a not-so-pet-friendly vacation, we would love your pet to stay with us while you are away.  West Chester Pet Resort offers a variety of services to make your pets stay a fun- filled adventure. Call to book your pet’s adventure today!

-West Chester Pet Resort & Spa
http://www.wcpetresort.com/
513-898-9631
By Kathy McRoberts 03 Dec, 2014

Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine


When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.

But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.

At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.

So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.

When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.

We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth:  The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.

Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing  earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.

“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.

So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:

  • You hear your Husky howling, and immediately storm in to reprimand her. How is this reinforcement? To many dogs, having a beloved human present (even a beloved yet annoyed human) is better than feeling lonesome. Your dog begins to think her howling is prompting you to chime in.
  • Your Lab whines pitifully as you begin to leave the house, so you return to take him with you. Over time, your dog starts believing that his whining causes you to come back for him (Pavlov’s theory, anyone?).
  • Your Westie mix cowers and growls behind the sofa whenever company arrives, so you pick him up and coo “Ohhhh, you’re fine, what a gooooood boy….” Soon, your dog begins to equate hiding and trembling with oodles of TLC.

“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.

Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.

The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”

Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.

Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress

The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )

Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.

Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.



More Posts
Share by: