How to Socialize Your Dog Safely with Children

Girl outdoors on skateboard with her dog

Every dog-loving parent wants to see kids and dogs interact safely. You may be an expert in preventing dog bites. You are aware that it is never a good idea to leave small children and pets together. Even your dog has likely been childproofed. While it is possible to wish that every youngster would learn appropriate dog behavior, this isn't always the case. Some don't have a dog at home, may not interact much, or just disobey the rules.

Dogs have a natural affinity with youngsters. Unfortunately, without the right resources, might not know how to act in a way that keeps them safe. Owners of dogs can learn how to teach them to be kid-friendly.

Ask Children to Approach Slowly

Remind youngsters not to approach a dog without permission when you are out walking your leashed dog. Always consult a parent before approaching the dog's owner. You can instruct them to approach dogs calmly and without running. The dog's privacy should not be violated. Children can reach out the back of their closed hand toward the dog, but not directly in the dog's face, if the dog is brought up close to them. Allow the dog to inspect the kid. If necessary, lower yourself to the dog's level (mainly with dogs).

Know When to Say No

It's OK to deny a child's request to pet your dog if they make one. They have to be taught never to approach a dog that exhibits signs of stress, worry, or fear. Usually, you may know by observing appeasing gestures or body language. When a dog is eating, chewing on a treat, or playing with a toy, children should stay away from it. Because they could be startled awake, sleeping dogs should be avoided.

Teach Proper Petting

It may be your duty as a dog owner to instruct kids—whether they are your own or guests—on how to properly pet your dog. Begin by gently massaging the dog's chest or chin. It's acceptable to gently scratch the dog, but keep your hands away from its head and face. Show the youngster you can gently massage or scratch their neck and back if you're allowed to do so after softly petting or scratching their chin or chest. Move towards the fur's direction.

Make sure the petting stops if the dog backs away, snaps, growls, or demonstrates appeasement gestures or .

Enforce Good Behavior Around Dogs

It's always essential to keep in mind some sound basic guidelines that you may apply to keep your dog and children safe, whether you are a beginner or experienced dog owner. It might be helpful to go through some ground rules in advance if your dog will be meeting your children for the first time. You can safely enforce the rules if you make sure that everyone is aware of them. Take your dog out of a dangerous environment.

  • Never pull a dog's ears or tail.
  • Don't grab on a dog's feet.
  • Avoid hugging dogs. This makes many dogs uncomfortable. If a dog feels threatened enough to bite, your head is dangerously close (the "bite zone").
  • Avoid putting your face close to a dog's face. This may invade the dog's personal space.
  • Avoid running away from dogs. This may evoke a predatory response. Don't forget, most dogs have some predatory instinct (some more than others).
  • Avoid yelling or screaming around dogs. Excessive noise can scare or excite some dogs and may just annoy others.

Problems and Proofing Behavior

The tendency for dog owners to assume their dogs would immediately embrace youngsters is an issue. This is probably achievable with the right training and persistence, but go slowly for the sake of everyone's health and safety.

Make sure the youngsters understand the rules so they don't surprise or alarm the dog. Be explicit about the appropriate times and places for children to eat, as many dogs are driven by food. Given that children are by nature closer to the ground, it may be alluring for a dog to have food at or near their level. When a dog attempts to innocently snag food, it may frighten little children.

If kids can't be avoided but your dog doesn't like them, seeing a canine behaviorist could be worthwhile. These experts may assist in developing a personalized action plan that can aid in bringing your dog and the kids closer together. Always have a plan in place before leaving your dog alone with children.