It is important to teach children at a young age how to respect animals. I see pictures and videos online often of small children sitting and jumping on dogs, while the dogs have very stressed looks on their faces. Usually it is accompanied by “the dog just bit the child out of the blue.” In response to this, very rarely does a dog bite without showing signs prior. It is our job as dog owners to be aware of these signs, and not put our children or dogs in a dangerous position. Try to think of it the same way as if you were lying on the ground resting and somebody started sitting and jumping on you. You probably would not like it too much either. So why should a dog have to tolerate it?
Some signs of a stressed dog include:
-Panting. (If a dog is panting and it is not directly after exercise, it is probably stress related.)
-Whale eye. (Seeing the whites of the dog’s eyes.)
-Lips stretched all the way back toward ears.
-Tongue Flick/ Lip Lick.
*These can all be precursors to a bite.
For some dogs the presence of a child is enough to make them feel uneasy. This is due to a couple factors. Kids move around quickly, make a lot of loud noises, and are rather unpredictable. If you combine those with being sat on, or jumped on you can easily have a situation where a dog bites because it feels it has no other choice.
Things children should not do to dogs:
-Climb all over them. (Dogs are not jungle gyms.)
-Poke, Pinch, or Punch them.
-Interfere with them during mealtime.
-Be unsupervised with them.
If your dog is nervous around children start to give him things that he loves when children are around. These things should be small and easily consumable. e.g. pieces of cheese, pieces of hot dog, turkey, chicken etc. For some cases it is a good idea to contact a trainer or a behaviorist that uses scientific methods to help.
One last thing that is also very important to teach children is to ask before they pet a strange dog. I always thank kids for asking before they pet my dog. I also remind them that they should ask if they forgot to.
Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org) and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V, follow him on Facebook by clicking here.