We in PetRescue encourage and recommend all pets owners to use only positive reinforcement training methods and to research and check out any trainer they are interested in using . There are many trainers out there.. each with their own views/ training techniques and the terminology to go along with their training. We encourage pet owners that... rather than be focused on terms used to describe training.... to focus on the methods used, what works for you, your pet and is humane, positive.
Many families with children have dogs and many families with children have also ended up giving their much loved dog away. Countless dogs are re-homed (the kindest option), given up to a shelter, or sadly, but all too commonly, euthanized.
The most common reason for this is because the family pooch, snapped, growled or in the worst case, bit a child. Another reason is the dog was just too wild and boisterous around the kids, jumping all over them. This article aims to give you the tools you need as parents, to keep both your children safe from your dog and also your dog safe from your children!!
According to the worldwide, respected Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, 4.5 million people are bitten each year by dogs! When it comes to children, it is the 5-9 year age bracket that seems to be the most commonly bitten. Yet Cesar does not believe in destroying these dogs, but rather rehabilitating them. His mantra which WORKS; exercise first and foremost, then discipline, which includes setting clear boundaries and limitations and only last, giving affection, creates a well balanced, healthy, happy and well socialized dog that knows his place in the family pack. You also need to be mindful and choose a dog with the right energy levels and temperament for your family.
It is important to first understand why dogs bite. Dogs are not like humans and therefore cannot be expected to behave like humans. Dogs can't resolve fear, or relinquish the need to dominant through a heart to heart conversation. We need to understand that they do not perceive things, or react to things like we do.
A dog who is fearful, nervous, or not properly socialized, may react to things that frighten him with a fight approach, as opposed to at take flight approach. If a nervous, fearful dog is scared and feels it has no way out of a situation it may protect itself by either biting, growling or snapping. Alternatively if a dog is a dominant animal and sees itself as head of it's pack and by pack this includes humans and other animals in the house, then it may discipline the pack and pull them into line with some aggressive force, which is how, in a wild dog pack, an alpha dog often disciplines his subordinates A dominant dog may also take ownership of possessions and food and may bite if for e.g you try to take away, or get too close to their toy, or food, or if you try to do things like get them down off the couch.
The majority of dogs are not naturally dominant, alpha dogs, but rather feel they need to be the pack leader of their human family, because they have no one offering them clear leadership, boundaries or guidelines , which all dogs need to feel secure, happy and stable. These dogs are confused as to where they fit in the pack and how it should function, so they try to take control so as to create a sense of order in their world. But dogs, of a more submissive nature, are not comfortable, or stable in this role and that can lead to problems such as aggression.
A dog that sees itself as the head of the home, feels the need to protect its pack and may bite strangers, or even people it knows, if it feels that it's pack is being threatened or in danger. Much of this is fear related. I am sure that many of you have heard stories of a father/husband who has been bitten by the family dog, because the dog thought he was hurting another family member when in-fact he was just hugging or play wrestling with them. While protectiveness is a normal reaction for a the alpha male of a dog pack, or for a female protecting her pups, it is not a safe behavior for a dog that lives side by side with humans. Adult humans for safety reasons, must be the one to give positive direction /reinforcement/ boundaries/ rules in the house.
Another reason a dog may bite is, when they are in pain or unwell e.g many vets have experienced first hand what it feels like to be bitten by a sick or injured dog.
One other all too common reason children get bitten, is when playtime with their dog goes to far and gets too rough. Dogs, unless taught differently, play with us as they would with other dogs and this naturally includes with their mouth and teeth. Watch dogs playing together and there is a lot of mouthing and nipping involved and often a yelp of pain when a play bite was too hard. Another very important rule is, never wake a sleeping dog as they may startle and bite in reaction.
What can we do? Deciding to bring a dog into the family when you have young children is a big responsibility. You need to be sure that you have the time to devote to walk your dog daily and to train and socialize not only your new dog/puppy, but also, and just as importantly, you need to teach your children how to act around the dog and you need to be there supervising them together.
Before you bring child and dog together, it is crucial that you explain to children how to behave around dogs. The ideal dog to be around children is one that has a calm, submissive nature, with the right energy levels to match your kids. Cesar Millan has an excellent article on introducing Children and Puppies, read here
Here are some tips for dog owners that are also welcoming a new baby into the family · Your dog should be well trained and recognize that both parents are who to look to for direction. · Your dog should know basic commands like sit, stay, lie down, leave and drop. If your dog is not doing these things and you haven't established trust, respect or leadership, then it is highly advisable to work with a respected dog trainer and get any problems solved before baby arrives. · To begin with baby's room should be an off bounds area for your dog, eventually once you see that your dog respects the new baby and shows no jealously, then always with supervision, you can let him into the baby's room if you wish. · Bring an item of clothing of your new baby's home from the hospital for your dog to smell. Your dog should sniff it from a distance and not take ownership of it. This way your dog learns to respect that this scent belongs to you and not to him.
We can't stress this enough, even if you think you have the gentlest dog on the face of this earth, never leave your baby unsupervised with your dog.
Many trainers recommends that you exercise your dog and drain some energy to make sure your dog is calm and relaxed just before you first introduce baby to him. Please read the entire article here on Introducing your Dog to your Baby by Cesar Milan
We found a great interactive website to check out together with your kids. It is is a fun and highly visual way to teach kids, safe dog ownership http://gooddogsa.com/gooddog/
Dogs and children ... some tips: · Teach your children and any children that visit, never to pull, smack or poke any part of your dog and never to tease, frighten or scream around the dog. · If other kids are visiting and your dog, or the child appears at all unsure or nervous, then play it safe and pop the dog in another room or outside. Dogs should have a safe spot in the house they can go to. · Teach children that they must never run straight up to, or make eye contact with a strange dog. Your child should always first ask the dogs owner whether their dog likes to be petted and then they should be taught to calmly approach from the side not the front and first offer the dog the back of their hand (not their open palm) to sniff. If the dog is accepting, your child should gently pat it under its chin, or on the side of its chest. · Children should be taught to recognize dog body language, especially warning signs from a dog like a lifted top lip, raised fur on the back, the tail tucked between the legs, snarling or growling. · Children need to be shown how to correctly hold a dog to avoid accidentally hurting it, which can lead to a bite. With small puppies children should only hold them if they are able to support them properly and not drop them. Many puppies have been severely injured by being dropped. · A child must be taught never to wake a sleeping dog, go near it when it is eating, or try to take a favourite toy or bone from the dog, even if you believe you have the most calm and submissive dog in the world, don't take chances. Your dog should in return be taught that your children's toys are also off- bounds. · Teach your child that certain human foods,small toys and other household items, can make your dog very sick. · Rough playing with dogs can lead to bites. Your child should play gently with your dog e.g throw or kick a ball or frisbee, take the dog for a walk, groom and pet the dog. Note: Tug-a war games are not safe to play with a dog, as they see it as a fight for dominance of the object. · For your dogs safety and your children's, train your dog to drop whatever it has in its mouth by a vocal command and teach your children how to use the command. · Older children should be taught how to establish leadership over your dog e.g a dog should never pull in-front of whoever is walking them, even if it is a child. Also younger children should never walk a dog unsupervised by an adult. Your dog may startle or see something and go after it and even a smaller dog could pull on its lead enough to drag a child, or cause them to fall & let go of the lead, endangering both the child and dog. · If you have really tried everything and can't get the aggression under control and you feel the dog is a threat to your child, please do not have the dog euthanized. There are some great animal re-homing organizations and foster homes available, that will find a suitable 'child free' home for your dog. Your last option, if you can't rehome your dog, should be to take it to a NO kill shelter.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 Feature Article: Play Date Checklist Play Date Checklist By Joan Orr and Teresa Lewin
When a child wants to go to at a friend's house, a responsible parent asks some basic questions. For example: will a parent be home? Does the family have a pool? Is the yard fenced? Rarely does it occur to a parent to ask if the family has a dog and if so, what steps will be taken to ensure that there are no incidents.
Doggone Safe recommends that parents visit the home of the family that their child wants to visit to meet the parents and the dog. We have created a check list of situations to help parents judge whether it seems safe to leave their child at a home with a dog. We encourage trainers to copy this list and hand it out.
Red Light Criteria (do not leave your child to play at this house):
Dog is chained or tied up or there is evidence that dog is kept tied up.
Dog seems uncared for; house smells like urine or feces.
Dog comes to the door barking and growling and continues even after owner answers the door.
Owner is rough with the dog, yelling, hitting or grabbing it by the collar to get it to comply.
Dog seems afraid of owner or ignores the owner's attempts to control it.
Dog is a kept as a guard dog.
Yellow Light Criteria (leave your child only if the dog will be crated or locked away the entire time):
Dog comes to the door barking and/or growling, but stops when told to do so and seems friendly when the owner answers the door.
Dog insists on getting between you and the owner’s child.
Dog is overly excited and races about or jumps all over you and your child.
Your child is afraid of the dog.
Dog holds his tail up in the air and wags it slowly or not at all.
Dog wags his tail low to ground or between his legs.
Dog seems fearful and hides, retreats from you or barks at you.
There are multiple dogs.
Green Light Criteria (leave your child if supervision will be adequate):
Dog is on a loose leash, in a crate or in a down stay when the owner answers the door.
Dog greets you in a calm and friendly manner with wagging tail when the owner gives permission.
Dog obeys the owner and the owner rewards this.
The dog owner agrees to supervise all interactions with the dog.
The Rules for Other People’s Dogs
No hugs and kisses.
Don’t take anything from the dog, or approach him while he is eating, chewing something or resting.
Interact with the dog only if the parent is present.
Be a Tree and stand still if the dog is too frisky, seems threatening or otherwise causes concern.