Keeping Dogs and Kids Safe (and Together!) – Pittsburgh Dog Trainer Blog
The companionship of dogs is not limited to us as grown adults – children can truly benefit and learn a lot from the loyalty and unconditional love from a dog (and vice versa). But like dogs, children need to learn from us how to behave and communicate appropriately, and that includes with their furry friends.
It’s a tragedy when there are aggressive encounters involving a dog and a person, but it’s more horrifying when the person is a child. In many of these cases, it was a situation that could have easily been preventable. It is not only important to identify “red flags” when they are waving, but we must show both children and dogs how to act correctly with the other. For example, while it is inexcusable for a dog to bite a child, perhaps it might not have happened if the child didn’t startle the dog from behind, or pull on the dog’s ears, or screamed in the dog’s face up close. Dogs, including those who have suffered from trauma and that exhibit fearful behavior, can learn to overcome and be a confident dog with a child, a man, another dog, etc.
With my dog training programs, I teach all of the dog’s participating family members how to effectively handle and communicate with their dog. If a child or teenager wishes to be part of the training process (the education and/or the handling aspect), they are welcome to provided the parent/guardian approves. I believe teaching younger people how to work with dogs is critical and can help prevent any opportunities of distress, anxiety or aggression from the dog.
I also want to make sure that dogs can handle the presence of children of all ages, including infants. For those who are expecting children or just had a baby, I started the Cribs and Canines training program to teach parents/dog owners how to smooth out their dog’s transition with the new family member. We work on certain situations relevant to the baby/child, such as teaching the dog impulse control when the owner’s attention is solely on the baby/child. If a stroller is involved, the dog will learn to not only be comfortable with the stroller (I have met many dogs that spooked by these!), but to walk calmly with the baby and stroller (also, no inappropriate play or jumping with the stroller and baby). Desensitization is a big part of the training, but we also make it fun and where the dog feels relaxed with a new baby and all the changes it inevitably brings, rather than anxious or confused.
Dogs and kids together can bring so much joy to a family. Bonds are built and strengthened, and both parties can learn a lot from one another. If you are seeking training as an expecting parent or as a current parent, give me a call at 800-649-7297. If your dog is already showing poor behavior with your child or other children, DON’T WAIT! Get things under control and prevent any potential incidents from occurring!