At Vetsure we know how important our pets are to us, big or small they really complete our family circle, and provide an unconditional friendship that is second to none.
Sometimes, a family group will include children as well as our canine counterparts. We all want a happy home, and the best way to keep our pets and their children companions happy, is to maintain a safe environment for them to grow and develop in.
There are many differences between children and our faithful friends, the main one being the way in which they interact and communicate together. Every one of us, of course, is unique. We all communicate differently. Imagine that dogs for the most part are much like us- they each have different backgrounds and upbringings, they have different social skill sets that they have learned through experiences with other dogs and people and ultimately, they have various personalities. The main difficulty with people and dogs is the language barrier, but dogs do communicate well with us if we’re able to take the time to stop and notice what they’re trying to tell us.
Dogs communicate using body language, and by knowing and understanding this body language we can begin to create a more harmonious environment at home.
Most young children are still learning boundaries, and tend to crave contact with their pet pooch. This may involve kissing and hugging them, which may seem like a loving caring way to treat their furry friends. However, in the dog world, this close face -to-face contact could be perceived as threatening or aggressive behaviour. Sadly, a lack of understanding on both sides could result in a dangerous situation and risk of someone being bitten. Even the friendliest of dogs could react unexpectedly if they feel cornered or frightened, it is a big miscommunication that can be costly for everyone involved.
These five tips below, can help you keep your children, and dog safe and happy together:
- Do not allow children to approach unknown dogs when out and about. Your child may love dogs, but sadly some dogs may have had bad experiences with children in the past, and therefore could react aggressively if approached. Communication between adults is key to keeping everyone involved, happy and safe.
- Teach children that if your dog is eating, sleeping or if they are unwell, that they should be allowed space. Your dog will approach you when they are happy with a situation.
- Always ensure your children do not tug their dog’s ears, tail, or try to climb them. You can help your child to remember this by letting them know they wouldn’t do this to a friend, so they shouldn’t do it to their dog.
- If your dog moves away or looks uncomfortable then they should be allowed to leave the situation that is ultimately making them nervous. This can be carried out much like a time out, where your dog is allowed a moment to itself to become calm. It is a good plan to know where your dog likes to go when it needs time to itself, enabling you to teach your child that when your pup is in that area they wish to be left alone.
- Instead of “rough play” with your dog, things like “tug toys”, you can help your child train your pet to do some easy commands or tricks. This will build a bond, and will allow your child to learn about their dog’s body language and behaviour.
With a few communication tweaks you can build a harmonious and save environment for your family and friends. Try to trust your instinct, and what your dogs body language is trying to tell you. If they are looking down, showing signs of stress, crying, or trying to move somewhere quiet, allow them the space to calm down. Just because they are tolerable, doesn’t mean they are happy to be tolerable.
If in doubt, or if your pet is showing visible signs of stress, vomiting or stomach problems, please contact your local veterinary practice for ways to help. Just as it can be daunting for first time parents, it can be equally as daunting for first time pooch siblings!