Keeping Kids Safe Around A Dog:
Know the subtle signs of stress
One of the most heartbreaking things to happen in the life of a pet owner is when their pet bites a child. You can be the most vigilant person in the world and it still may happen. This is the hard reality of having both kids and dogs living under the same roof. No matter how many times you tell a child not to bother a dog or how much obedience training your dog has, a devastating bite can occur with or without warning.
Why do these things happen? It is because children and dogs are not robots. Children can and do often forget ‘the dog rules’ quickly because they are impulsive creatures with short attention spans and dogs are simply creatures of instinct. Trying to police children and pets together can prove difficult even for the most well-intentioned person, not to mention it can also be emotionally exhausting.
Knowing the subtle and not-so-subtle signs of stress in your dog can make all difference in the world when your dog encounters a strange situation. Not all dogs growl or bark to give their warning to back off. Dogs also speak volumes with body language. Being able to translate what your dog is trying to say through his body language is an invaluable tool. Listed below are some things to watch out for in your pet. Once you learn them, teach them to the members of your family no matter how young or old they are.
Excessive lip licking -- If your dog just finished a delicious meal, then it is common for them to lick their chops clean. If he is being lavished with affection and he starts to lick his lips or tongue flicks, then he is saying that he needs his space. Please don’t allow extra hugs and kisses on a dog that is clearly not cool with receiving them.
Excessive yawning -- Dogs sleep a lot. It’s true. They yawn just like we do when we are tired. I am yawning now just writing about the topic of yawning. What is not typical is a yawn that occurs that does not coincide with the dog actually taking in a rest. My dog used to yawn when he wanted to go for a walk. It was his stress and anxiety showing, not because he was up all night perusing the internet.
Tension -- Any kind of tension isn’t good sign. Pay extra attention to the tail, ears, head, mouth and eyes. These are common stress areas on a dog where obvious tension is displayed. A dog that looks like he is a bound up bundle of nerves and is stiff is a dog you want to approach with extreme caution, if at all.
“Whale eye” -- This is called such because when you can see the white part of a dog’s eye, it resembles a whale. This is a common thing to see when the dog is in distress.
Excessive Panting -- If your dog is recovering from a long walk, or if it’s hot enough to fry an egg, then it is normal to expect a dog to pant a lot. Panting happening because someone is near their food bowl and they aren’t supposed to be is something that should be paid attention to for the sake of safety.
Tail and Ear Position -- A dog with his ears back and a stiff tail is trying to tell you to back off in no uncertain terms. A dog can also send some mixed signals which can be a little confusing to kids. A wagging tail doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is ready to interact It can mean submission or even anxiety.
Be consistent with your children about the ‘dog rules’ you have in home and model those behaviors around them. if one of rules is to not allow their face dog’s face, then don’t do that front child. learn by watching as well listening. try take advantage teachable moments while demonstrating proper dog handling skills.
While there is no foolproof method to prevent a dog bite, knowing the subtle signs of stress in dogs and supervising interactions between your pets and children can help to keep the odds in your favor. If you see any of these exhibited in your dog, intervene immediately. If you see any of these behaviors in your dog consistently, don’t wait and think it will get better. Seek the help of an animal behavior specialist. They will work with you and your dog to come up with solutions.