The kids playing with the family dog is a classic scene, it evokes warm fuzzy feelings. Sadly the warm fuzzies are replaced with fear and pain if the family dog bites a child. In today’s world a dog that bites is very often a dog that is surrendered to a shelter. A dog with a bite history is extremely unlikely to be adopted and are among the first to be euthanized.
Which is a tragedy because most dog bites are preventable. An animal will almost always give you a warning that a bite is imminent if you know what to look for.
If you’re a dog parent that has your dog around children it is your responsibility to know your dog’s behavior clues that indicate stress or anxiety and reduce or eliminate those stressors. This isn’t always easy today when we are literally bombarded by images of animals on social media. The images form the basis of funny jokes or memes that make us laugh, or are labeled cute and elicit the “Awwwww” response. So we see something that we have a positive emotional reaction to and in our hearts and minds we assume the dog is also having a good time.
This is very far from being true. But because we think the dog is okay with being squeezed or kissed or held up in midair we miss the dog’s cues that they aren’t happy. And when we miss early warning signs, dogs move on to the one you can’t miss: a bite. If you’re lucky it’s a quick growl and a snap that doesn’t make contact, but even that is pushing your dog too far.
I found this video recently. It’s important enough that I want to share it as far and wide as possible. Everyone with a kid and a dog should watch.
I’ve raised and trained lots of different kids of animals but I have nearly zero experience with one very important kind of critter – children. I don’t have any of my own and I’ll be blunt here I’m not very good with them. So I have never had to integrate dogs and kids into a family unit. The first time I watched that video I cried because none of the dogs in that video are happy, at best they are uncomfortably tolerant. At worst they are in pain or even afraid. But most people will only see the adorable kids and their beaming faces and assume it’s all good.
Watch it again, but now pay attention to the expressions on the dogs faces. Instead of thinking “oh that’s funny” I want you look at how tense the dog’s eyes and mouths are, how they flatten their ears or turn their heads away from being smooched. As it says in the video they are trying to be good but you should not let your dog get pushed into any situation that puts such a look on its face.
I found this video on this website. It’s called Stop the 77 because their data shows that 77% of dog bites are either the family dog or a friend’s dog. They have put together a program to help you learn how to teach your kids how to safely interact with dogs. I really love it. If you have kids and you have dogs you need to go there and check it out. Fun videos and educational materials make it super easy to teach your kids to be safe around dogs.
Really. I mean it. You need to visit this website. The information there could make the difference between having a much loved famity member for life or getting rid of your dog.
6 thoughts on “Dogs + Kids = Bites! Yikes!”
I would also like to add to this a comment about kids playing with dogs that are “nipped” or “bitten” through play. I have two boys that love to play with our dogs and vice versa. But the more they all get excited and wound up playing the more our now 2 year old pup gets excited and wants to play with them as another pup, which can include teeth. So we have to keep an eye on the play and make sure the play does not get too out of hand. Our boys thoroughly understand that this can happen, but in the throws of over-excitedly playing, it is still something that can happen. Mind you, it is never a hard or agressive bite. And our pup does respond very well to the words of “No Bite”. But just like the two legged kids, he can get over excited and forget himself. So just something to add the the article above, to always keep at least one eye on your kids (both two-legged and four-legged) when they are playing together.
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Absolutely an adult should supervise when kids and dogs play together. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
I love dogs more than children. I wish folks would teach their children better about how to treat dogs.
I have a dog that previously bit it’s child owner. The child had jumped on top of it.
Since we’ve had him (4 yrs), there has been no incidents of biting or aggression, with us or any child he’s met.
Why do we excuse the child’s behavior and think it’s OK to blame the dog and destroy it?
I think folks need to own up to thier own actions and not blame others for thier mistakes! This goes for more than just dog incidents.
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Good for you taking in that dog! It is a big step and kudos for providing a loving home where your dog feels safe and taken care of. As the video from Stop the 77 illustrates so clearly it is often that the human ignores the dog’s warning signs. A bite is frequently an act of desperation by a dog that feels it has no other possible course of action.
You are correct. Dog parents do need to do a better a job teaching their two-legged kids respect for the four legged ones. Dogs need their space and need to know their humans will respect their wishes.
Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll check back agin when I put up new posts.
Thank you so much Healey for sharing our information! The more families who see the videos the safer kids and dogs will be. Thanks again so much – we really appreciate your support!
You’re very welcome! I’m happy to share your video and website. I might not have a lot of kid experience but I know good training and good information when I see it. I mean it when I say everyone with kids and dogs should check out your program. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. 😃