The Dangers of Dogs and Children
There is almost nothing better than the relationship between a dog and a child.
However, MOST Adults Don’t Realize How Dangerous Dogs Can Be in
I think we have a romanticized ideal about how dogs and children should get along.
And, I think we expect all dogs to act like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie.
Even though I agree that 50 years ago, dogs seemed a whole lot more tolerant with children, the truth is, that times have changed.
So few puppies and dogs are taught manners and impulse control.
And, unlike the dogs of yesteryear, the dogs in our society now are spoiled and rarely socialized to the degree that they need to be successful in life.
Life is busier, and human beings have learned to anthropomorphize dogs without giving them any kind of behavioral expectations.
And, many people don’t realize that their dog is actually anxious and fearful, not relaxed, around children.
Many Dogs are Dangerous
In essence, many dogs are dangerous.
A large majority of dogs lack social skills, tolerance, and impulse control.
And, without these basic things, a dog can be like a ticking time bomb.
Something Else to Consider
Children don’t look like small humans to our canine friends.
Children run, scream, move fast, dance, dart, wail, disrespect and grab animals, kick and trip over animals and very rarely show the social norms and behaviors of an adult human.
And, all of the aforementioned traits make them appear more like equals or even prey.
It isn’t the dog’s fault!
How is the dog to know that the thing running and screaming, pitching a fit and thumping his head is actually a human (like his owner)?
I mean, it is common knowledge for a human to recognize a human baby, but why do we expect a whole new species to be capable of doing so?
Yet it is Terrifying
Dogs often kill or wound what they consider prey.
In my opinion, this is why so many dogs kill children.
They aren’t killing “humans” in their minds; they are following through on their instincts and killing something weak that appears like easy prey or something that has gotten in their space and shown excessively bad behaviors without heeding warnings.
I know the idea is horrifying, and many of you are appalled that I could say such things.
But if we don’t face the problem, we will continue to watch our babies and our toddlers (especially) mauled and killed by dogs that people once “trusted”.
I have often heard “I never expected it, he has never bit anyone”, but it is probably because he didn’t have the perfect opportunity.
A dog is much less likely to bite me and much more likely to bite a toddler.
I can defend myself.
I am big in stature and my attitude is no nonsense.
I also don’t run around screaming gutturally or flailing my arms and I am not about to grab a dog’s tail or chase him or hug him (all of which are pretty common for children to do to dogs they know, and, even dogs they don’t know).
Think About It
When your child misbehaves, you might swat him.
When a dog corrects a child for bad or painful behavior, all he has available to use is his teeth!
Recently I was preparing for an article when I Googled “dog bites child” and I was appalled at the videos I pulled up.
Granted, I could see that the dog was uncomfortable in ALL of the videos, and that a bite was on the horizon, but it is still sad and horrifying.
And yet, as horrifying as it is, I think there is honestly no better way to learn about dog behavior and what a dog looks like before it bites. And it is often very clear how stressed and fearful the dog is prior to biting.
No one wants to see dogs bite, but watching it helps to hone your skills for when you are in the company of dogs.
The #1 thing that taught me what a dog looks like right before it bites was getting into a bite suit and being bitten time and time again. It is an amazing experience that can teach you more in 5 minutes than you could learn in months of research.
If I Was a Parent
If I was a parent I would trust NO DOG.
I would teach my children a healthy respect and perhaps a slight fear of dogs so that they would have good social skills.
I wouldn’t even totally trust my own dogs, ever.
Although I have dozens of pictures of my dog snuggling with my niece, I still never trust them alone.
I need to be able to see my dog’s face and body language and I need to make sure that my niece doesn’t inadvertently lay on top of her, step on her, trip over her or hurt her.
I had the same dog giving demos for kindergarteners.
I trust her 90%, but I still ensured that she was petted one at a time, and that I was in charge of the interaction (standing right there), and that her focus was on me.
She knew if she did a good job, she would get treats.
Sure, I could have probably let her wander the room and be petted… but it wasn’t worth that someone’s kid might hurt her or she might become fearful and intolerant.
Dogs are dogs.
Dogs have teeth.
Dogs aren’t always amenable to being touched when they don’t feel good, are scared, painful, or stressed.
If you love your dog and your children, you will take heed and keep them both safe, at all cost!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.