There's no question that we all LOVE seeing kids and dogs together. The relationship between a child and a beloved dog is something we see in TV, movies, and in our own homes. But it's not always an easy relationship like we might see on the big screen. According to the CDC statistics on dog bites, the majority of bites each year are to children under 9 years old. While this might surprise you, it makes a lot of sense. Young children often don't fully understand boundaries (or lack impulse control), so they may push a dog past its limits with poking, prodding, etc. Kids also do lots of things that can frighten or frustrate a dog- like running around, moving erratically (like toddlers), making loud noises, or smelling "different." These can all contribute to unsafe situations that lead to bites!
So we want to help all of our dog people keep their pups and kids safe! Here are some of the biggest recommendations:
1. Remember that your (or any) dog and your (or any) children are sentient creatures who deserve to have their own spaces and be respected. If an interaction between a dog and a child is making one of them uncomfortable, STOP the interaction! (Dogs shouldn't be expected to "tolerate" rude behavior- it's unfair, and it can lead to bites).
2. Remember that a young child or a dog doesn't have great cognitive abilities. They don't understand right from wrong and lack decision making abilities and impulse control. You are the only one who can be responsible for setting up safe interactions!!!
3. Supervision and management are absolutely key to keeping dogs and kids safe. Remember, there are different types of supervision- are you in the room but working on your computer? Or are you actively engaged and monitoring play? Do you have baby gates, crates, or other management tools to help you avoid issues? Want more info? Check out our recent Kids and Dogs webinar led by Jenn Burns of Conscious Dog Training for more awesome tips.
We also highly recommend checking out Family Paws, which has TONS of great resources for managing dogs and babies/toddlers/kids. You can also check out our Resources Page for more info about kids and dogs as well as a ton of other behavior topics. And if you want to catch upcoming webinars, you can sign up here.