Update: It seems a bit ironic that MPs should announce a review of how children are taught to act around dogs on the same day I had scheduled my post about how we encourage children to interact with our pup and the rules we have established to ensure everyone has a happy but ultimately safe time.
On a recent dog walk, I saw a sign stuck to some school gates. It read along the lines that ‘due to a child being bitten by a dog on school premises, dogs are now banned from this area’.
Chatting to hubby that evening, our own pup laying at my feet, I said that whilst it was sad that a child had been bitten, the dog was probably blamed and even potentially destroyed. Obviously, we don’t know the details of the incident but I’d guess that a child approached and tried to touch the dog as it was tied to the school gates, whilst its owner was collecting their child. We’ve had similar things happen to our own pup, where she was tied to a fence while we were sat next to her having our lunch. Two children ran up to us and without asking, grabbed our pup in a bear hug before running off.
As a general rule, the majority of dogs are man’s (and women and children’s) best friends. They aren’t Cujo‘s, wandering the streets, looking for humans to maul. However, like all animals, they have their limits and work on the principals of fight or flight.
We love dogs here in Casa CH but have had to work hard to train not just the dog, but also the Lamb in the correct way to interact with each other. We’re not a family who has a lot of rules (be kind, clean up after yourself and make sure mama always has a cup of tea are pretty much it), but here are a few set-in-stone rules we have with regards to dogs:
- Never approach a dog you don’t know, especially if the owner is not present;
- always ask the owner’s permission before touching a dog and follow any guidelines they might give, for example, only stroke the back;
- don’t bother a dog whilst it’s eating or sleeping;
- our pup doesn’t like having her feet touched. Like a human, they all have their preferences for where they will be touched and you must respect that;
- don’t approach a dog if its tail is down or tucked under its body as these are often signs of fear;
- ditto, don’t approach a dog if it’s growling. I’ve seen owners tell their dogs off for growling but it’s the dogs early warning system, a bit like a smoke alarm going off to tell you your house is on fire, a dog growls to give you the opportunity to stop whatever you’re doing which is annoying it;
- always give dogs space. The fight or flight impulse is strong with dogs. Their first instinct is to ‘flight’ – they will walk away unless cornered (which is why I think the dog described above may have bitten the child – it would have been unable to escape if it was tied to the school gates);
- Our pup is a real cuddler and will practically sit on your lap if you let her, but she’s not keen on fidgeters and doesn’t like to be grabbed for bear hugs. She’ll endure both but will walk away as quickly as she can. It’s the rule not to chase her;
- if a dog has a ‘safe area’ you have to respect that and not bother the dog if they’re in their safe zone. In our house, the dog’s bed and crate are her ‘safe’ areas. If it’s a little too crazy with mini humans or visitors, or if she just wants a timeout, then she’ll curl up in there and come out again when she’s ready. Disturb her at your peril!
We firmly believe here at Beagle HQ that by respecting a few rules, dogs and children will be the best of friends!
Do you have children and a dog? What rules have you set to ensure a happy home? Sound off in the comments!