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
IACP Member #3141
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.