Dogs and children seem to be the perfect pairing – both love to run and play; they share height restrictions and energy levels; neither of them pays rent. Yet, out of the estimated 800,000 dog bites reported annually that require medical attention, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that half of those happen to kids. According to NuVet reviews from experts, controlling aggressive behavior requires training both your dog and your children.
Roots of Aggression towards Children
Even the sweetest, most gentle family pet is capable of biting. It’s a natural defense mechanism for animals, even domesticated ones. Dogs that aren’t properly socialized by four months of age may not react well to children. Their movements, voices and even their sizes are different from adults, meaning your dog may not make the connection that kids are simply smaller humans.
Kids also behave unpredictably around dogs. Sudden movements may startle a dog. A child may approach a dog as he eats or plays with a toy, making the dog think he has to guard his “valuables.” Children are also known to poke, pull, and jump all over dogs like they’re inanimate stuffed animals. Unfortunately, dogs do respond to pain, discomfort, and fear – often resulting in a snap or a bite.
Supervising your child’s interactions with your (or any) dog allows you to intervene if something goes awry. A general progression of agitation in a normally non-aggressive dog is often:
Stopping what he’s doing, sometimes along with a hard stare at the child;
Baring of teeth with a growl or snarl;
Snapping – this is a warning, not a failed bite;
Biting – some dogs will temper their bites to avoid serious harm, but others will not.
Working with Your Dog
Basic obedience training is essential for any dog. When you can ask for and immediately receive a command, you hold the key to diffusing a tense situation. Work with a professional or friends and family to socialize your dog and condition him to various situations. The ASPCA recommends the “Statue Game” to teach your dog proper interactions with kids. The kids will “go crazy” until you say “freeze.” When they stop, ask your dog to sit and then reward him. As he learns the game, he’ll sit whenever the movement stops.
Working with Your Kids
A child who understands how to interact with dogs is safer in their presence. Always require your kids to ask permission before petting a dog they don’t know. As mentioned in NuVet reviews, never allow them to reach through a fence or window to pet a dog. Teach them how to properly pet a dog using a stuffed animal and instruct them to leave a dog alone when he starts to show signs of aggression or agitation. As they get older, explain to them why poking, pulling, and rough-housing with dogs is unacceptable.