Do You Trust YOUR Dog Around Kids?
Our little West Highland Terrier Button (pictured) is part of our family. She is intelligent, sweet, cuddly and feisty. She lives inside, up on all the furniture and goes everywhere with us that dogs are welcome. And when our grandchild is born in April and comes to visit she will be allowed nowhere near that baby.
We’ve all seen the photos and videos on Facebook that show the family dog being introduced to the new baby; they are sniffing the baby’s head, or snuggling up next to them asleep, or even giving them licks causing great division in the comments with people arguing it’s dangerous and thoughtless, OR people swearing black and blue their dog would never, ever hurt anyone.
That’s what my girlfriend’s sister Amy thought too. Amy has an 11 year old little ball of fluff who she trusted completely. On the day before Christmas she was in the kitchen cutting up some lunch while her dog, as usual, waited patiently at her feet for a treat when her nine month old grandson, who’s just started walking, came toddling around the corner and gave the dog a whack on the bum.
In a flash the dog sunk his teeth into that baby’s face, narrowly missing his optic nerve. The baby spent 5 days in hospital on intravenous antibiotics, his eye was swollen shut and he could end up with permanent scars from the bites, one of which was quite deep. His grandmother is horrified beyond belief and wracked with guilt. She had no clue that her sweet, dependable pooch could be capable of such a thing and I think she, along with most people believe that dogs have a natural protective instinct towards children. They do not. They instinctively protect themselves.
Just yesterday my husband and I took Button for a walk, stopped in the park and my husband, for a laugh, got on the swing and started swinging. Some weird switch went off in Button’s brain, she started barking, jumped up and sunk her teeth into his back. This is the damage:
Never before has she bitten one of us and no doubt she thought she was instrumental in saving him from some mortal damage but still…
Dog bites to children are extremely dangerous because they’re most likely to be to the head and face. Bleeding to death after the carotid artery is severed is the most common reason for child dog attack fatalities.
Children must understand that a dog is not a toy. Pulling their tail, sitting on them, disturbing their sleep or even kissing them can antagonise a dog and any dog can bite or snap if worried, scared or hurt. The majority of bites happen in the home with family dogs or dogs that are well known. Even though you know your dog well and think they would never hurt anyone, you still need to take steps to ensure that your children are safe.
And if you are expecting a baby and already own a dog there are a few things you can do to prepare your dog:
1. Introduce your dog to all the items in the house that are going to be related to the baby. Play a recording of baby noises. Let them get used to the smell of lotions and wipes and even start carrying around a baby sized doll.
2. Teach your dog not to jump up and make sure they know the commands of sit, stay and leave.
3. Have someone bring home items from the hospital the baby has already worn to gradually introduce the dog.
Dogs and children can be hugely beneficial to each other growing up but everyone needs to be aware of the risks in order to prevent a potential disaster.