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Children and & Dogs

Children like to play with dogs, but do supervise this in case either the child or the puppy gets hurt. A toddler may poke a dog in the eye, stand on it, pull its tail or pick it up by the lips. A dog may knock over a tiny tot. The pups nails or tiny teeth may hurt the child. If a dog feels threatened, tormented, frightened, or cornered he will defend himself. 

We need to teach our children how to treat a dog. If we can't train the dog, we can train the child! Training a dog to respect a child can be difficult as the dog may see the child as a playmate or underling, and not "the master."

The child needs to understand that a growl means, “Stop doing that!” The next step, even more threatening, is the snarl: the dog bares his teeth, and his eyes are big and menacing. He raises his hackles to make himself look bigger and more ferocious. The snarl means, “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, I’m going to bite you! This is your last warning!”

Children need to be taught never to touch strange dogs, even if they are wagging their tails. Tail-wagging can mean the dog is not sure whether to attack or be friendly. Kids should not even look a strange dog in the eye, as the dog may see this as a challenge. They should never run away from, or past a dog, but walk slowly or stand their ground. Dogs chase runners and fast moving things like bicycles. High pitched screaming or squealing can alarm the dog and make it think it’s under attack. Instead, the children should call the dog and let the dog be the one to approach them. The dog is then showing submission.

 Kids shouldn’t touch a dog’s toy, bone or food, especially when he is eating. They should respect a dog’s privacy when he is in his kennel. Puppies need lots of naps during the day to give their body time to grow.

Train children to use two hands when picking up a puppy. Picking him up by the scruff of the neck will hurt him. Kids must not touch a strange dog, even if it is behind a fence. They must not grab a dog from behind or while sleeping. Don’t give a dog a fright or it may give you a fright! Bitches with puppies are especially fierce in order to defend their young. God has given them this instinct to ensure the survival of the species.  If a dog threatens kids, tell them to throw something like a lunch box or toy to the side of the dog to distract it. (They are not to throw it AT the dog or threaten it). They can protect their face with a bag or jacket.   

Once the dog and child understand each other, they will probably become the best of friends. Lonely children can benefit from having a dog to confide in. Dogs keep secrets! Friends may come and go, but the dog always there, and loves us no matter what everyone else thinks of us. A dog can help a child through a stressful change, like moving house or changing school. It gives stability to life. The love that a dog can bestow on a child gives a child a positive self-image, and can help to ward off depression and anxiety. Traumatised children can allow themselves to express love and affection to an animal.

It can be helpful to talk to the dog instead of the child, “Come, Max, my good dog, it’s bed-time. Let’s have a bed-time story,” can be more effective than ordering a child to get to bed. If the child sees the dog obeying he may respond favourably too! A child who is afraid of the dark may feel reassured if he can take the dog to bed with him (a living Teddy Bear) On the whole, dogs and kids get on very well and it is hoped that the child will learn that a dog can be "man's best friend."

Little boy proudly holding the leads of two well-behaved dogs.

Wesley August, with two dogs Leo and Xena.

Baby on the way?

Dogs who have been "mummy's baby" may feel resentful when a new baby comes along. Let the dog see the baby's room before the birth. Use a doll as a substitute. Put baby powder & lotion on the doll, & carry it around, talking to it, so that the dog realises that HE is not mummy's only interest.


The Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go."    Proverbs chapter 22, verse6  Little girl sitting on the ground with a dog


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