Reports of savage dog attacks are rarely out of the headlines these days. Unsurprisingly, this leaves many parents worrying about the safety of their children around “man’s best friend”. Just how safe are our canine chums?
Mutual respect between human and canine lies at the heart of ensuring you have a healthy, happy and well-adjusted dog, but a lack of knowledge on the owner’s part can lead to some dangerous and tragically fatal incidents.
Whether you’ve owned your family pet dog for years or are visiting a friend or relative with a dog that you’re not so familiar with, these guidelines by animal charity the Blue Cross should be heeded. They recommend the best course of action to ensure safety around all dogs and to encourage harmony in the home.
- Children under the age of 10 should NEVER be left unsupervised with any dog, even for a few moments.
- Dogs do not always appreciate being hugged or cuddled unless familiar with it from an early age. Slowly find out what the dog will accept, supervising constantly to ensure no unacceptable behaviour occurs on either side.
- Make sure children give the dog space and allow the dog to come to them and remain calm at all times. High-pitched squeals can also upset a dog.
- Children should never approach or disturb a dog that is sleeping or follow a dog that is trying to find a quiet space to get away.
- Children need to learn not to tease or bully dogs; likewise dogs have to learn not to jump up at children or be too boisterous.
- Experiences during the first year of a dog’s life make all the difference to future temperament and character. Taking the time to socialise your puppy can result in a friendly adult dog that enjoys the company of people. Socialising is easy and means simply taking your puppy out and about as much as possible, meeting lots of people and other dogs.
- A good puppy socialisation class can help your training. Puppies are usually admitted between the ages of 12 and 20 weeks and the entire family is encouraged to attend.
- Happy dogs don’t usually bite, but all dogs may bite if they feel threatened or if they are very excited.
- Dogs don’t know right from wrong and they have to be taught how to behave, just like children. Animals react to what is around them and how they feel. If they feel unwell and the room is noisy, they may react differently from when the room is quiet or they feel well.
How to behave around dogs
- Always ask the owner before touching any animal.
- Listen to what the owner tells you.
- Animals may be frightened by sudden movements so walk, don’t run or jump.
- Give the animal plenty of space so it doesn’t feel scared.
- Be quiet and talk quietly when around animals. No squealing! Only feed an animal if the owner has told you to do so.
- Never approach a dog when it’s sleeping, feeding or drinking, or try to remove its toy.
- Never be cross with, hit, smack or kick a dog.
- Always call a dog to you and leave him alone if he doesn’t come. Don’t pull him off a sofa, for example.
- Don’t play games where the dog chases you, or rough and tumble games.
If an aggressive dog approaches you
- Stand tall, like a tree, tuck away your hands and look away when a strange or excited dog comes up to you.
- Never run away as dogs love to chase.
- If a dog is aggressive and you are knocked over, curl up small, like a rock, tuck in your head and cover your ears with folded arms.
- Always drop any toys or food so the dog goes away.
- If you are on a bike and a dog chase you, get off on the opposite side and put the bike between yourself and the dog.
- If a dog tries to bite or jump up, put your bag between yourself and the dog.