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.
Image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/meaganjean/