According to an article on the BBC, hospital admissions in the UK due to dog bites have increased by 5% in the last year. From May 2010 to April 2011 there were a total of 6,120 admission, up from 5,914 the previous 12 months.

More worryingly, 1 in 6 of these involved children under 10.

Although some of these incidents will most likely be down to dogs which are dangerous and unpredictable, it’s fairly likely that the many will have involved those which are usually placid and gentle. As dog owners we need to be acutely aware of what is going on around us, especially where children are involved, as it’s very easy for our dogs to find themselves in stressful (and possibly frightening situations) which may cause them to lash out.

Some ‘common sense’ tips:

  • As a puppy, it’s always good to expose your dog to as many situations as possible. Introduce him to children, get him used to having his face touched and (gently) tug at his ears. This not only reduces the chance of a reaction but also helps when it comes to vet trips!
  • If you know a child is petting your dog, be sure to keep a close eye on things. Tugged ears or hands in the mouth are asking for trouble (not matter how much training you’ve done) and can easily be avoided.
  • Ensure that situations involving children are seen as positive. Don’t get stressed, reward your dog for sitting there and being mollycoddled, and generally try to keep him as happy and comfortable as possible.
  • Don’t let him get over-excited (which includes things like jumping up). Even if your dog is small he can still do some damage with his claws… and if he’s big it doesn’t take much to knock over a child which 9 times out of 10 will end in tears.
  • If you can, teach the child to ‘ask permission’ (from both you and your dog) before petting him. The most common way to introduce yourself to a dog is to hold out your hand and let him have a quick sniff, just to make sure you don’t smell of cats or squirrels 😉

Remember, you’re responsible for your dog, so keeping him happy and stress free will help ensure that you don’t accidentally add someone to the hospital statistics. I do, however, think that parents need to be more careful when it comes to children and dogs.

Very often you see kids being allowed to run over and almost pounce on an unsuspecting pooch, so it’s no wonder that accidents do occasionally happen. This side of things, from an owner’s point of view, is very frustrating and incredibly difficult to manage – hence the tip about educating the child.

If you’ve got any more ideas (or opinions) we’d love to hear from you so fee free to leave a comment below.

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About The Author

Animal lover, web geek, and co-founder of Pet365. On a mission to make pet sites more interesting and, hopefully, put a smile on people's faces along the way. @mattbeswick on Twitter.

  • Cathy

    I agree that parents need to teach their children better how to interact with a dog. It is nicer when a child ask if they can pet your dog then to come barreling over which can spook a dog too. Owners of dogs that are more aggressive should take precautions when they have their dogs out in public too, like a shorter leash or muzzle.

  • Judi

    People might like to check out doggonesafe .com It is a wonderful site with great suggestions for dog safety.

  • Paul

    Childrens’ interests must come before these dogs.
    I used to hear my soon- to- be- ex mother-in-law telling the kids off for being rough with her untrained Staffie, but when the stupid animal would snap at them, the bleated excuses would come rushing out. The dog was her baby, and nobody (ie me) was allowed to shout at it.
    That was until it savaged my 4 year old son’s neck. He is fine; the marks will heal.
    Mother-in-law couldn’t bear to have it put down, so I told her that she would never see the kids again (she has no other kids or grandkids), and I told her I hoped she would get cancer and a stroke (I work in a hospital.)
    Hopefully today the right thing has been done, after the s.t.b.ex- wife put pressure on.
    I hated that dog; it was annoying as hell. Completely untrained.
    I was the only person it ever listened to, and the whole sickening affair wouldn’t have happened if I’d been there. How lucky I’m getting custody of the kids; our cat scratches and my turtles snap, but generally without bloodshed. And yes, I would kill them myself if one of them savaged a child.

  • justsimplybe

    It is unfortunate that dogs usually get the blame for attacks, but no one stops to think of their responsibility in educating themselves and their children. Ignorance is a huge problem, and addressing it even bigger. Thank you for planting a seed!

  • Lisa

    Right! Children can be unpredictable AND dogs can be unpredictable. Interactions between any dog and child should be supervised. I also usually recommend that my clients teach their children to act as they would like the dog to act. Calm, quieter, peaceful.
    I also agree with Paul’s post about many people baby-ing their dogs. There has been a movement away from proper training and setting boundaries for dogs (just as there has for children!) Are dogs AND children are less controlled and into more trouble. Time to tighten the reins on both and teach both how to be responsible for their actions!