Harmonious cohabitation between dog and child
A dog in the house is always an extremely beneficial presence for a child in contact with him.
Contact with the dog can even foster a sense of responsibility in the child. The child must learn to communicate with the dog, and since words are useless, the child learns to use sign language, which also helps him/her approach others.
The dog often brings a sense of security and regularly soothes tensions in the household by his mere presence. He helps maintain communication between members of the household and usually helps to calm people in crisis situations.
There are many positive sides to cohabitation between child and dog. However, there are also some negative aspects and risks that need to be taken into account, especially when young or very young children are involved.
In order to properly prepare children and be ready to train your dog, you must first and foremost know the dog’s reasoning in order to fully understand how he reacts in some situations. The mistake humans often make is to treat the dog like other humans in the household.
However, the dog is not a human and will never be. Even though he is part of the family in his own right, he is still an animal and reacts like an animal at all times. His understanding and perception is different from that of humans.
Knowledge of canine psychology is therefore essential for a successful cohabitation between the dog and the children in the house and thus ensure safety of all, dogs and humans alike.
Causes of dog bites among children
Very often, the family dog is the one who attacks the child, sometimes interpreting the child’s actions as aggression. Even if the family dog is a lovely doggy who is always ready to play with everyone, it is completely unthinkable to leave the child with the dog unsupervised.
Because the child does not know the nature of the dog, he can sometimes make a gesture that frightens the dog or is misunderstood by the dog, leading him to defend himself by biting the child. He does not seek to hurt voluntarily but to defend or protect himself by following his instincts.
Unfortunately, we hear all too often: “a dog that bites deserves to die”. This abomination demonstrates well the human incomprehension of canine reasoning. The dog’s only means of defence is often to bite, therefore it is simply unrealistic to think that the dog will never bite.
Dog and child education
The education of the dog must automatically include the education of children in relation to the dog. It is essential for parents who want to adopt a dog to teach their children to treat all dogs with respect and utmost caution.
Dogs and children from 0 to 10 years old
Very young children are often the most likely to be bitten by a dog due to their misunderstanding caused by their too young age, lack of education, impulsiveness or even sometimes their too big love of animals.
Very young children are not aware of the dangers of a dog. They only want to play with the doggie in the house even though the dog may not necessarily want to do the same.
Dogs aren’t doggies, and even though he’s the kindest, calmest dog in the world, his reaction is always unpredictable, no matter what the situation.
Until about the age of 5, most children are unable to consciously respect a dog. Taking care of a dog becomes possible for children between 10 and 12 years old.
However, it is very important that the child is already empowered before he or she can take care of a dog. Not all 10-year-old children can take care of their dog.
It is therefore essential to educate your dog but also educate your children at the same time. One never goes without the other.
Some people think that the dog must always respect humans. It is true that the dog must submit to his master but since the dog’s reaction varies according to his criteria and his ability to understand, humans must learn to respect their dog’s limits while educating him adequately so that he reacts well in all situations.
Responsibility of the human being towards the dog
The dog remains at all times the responsibility of his owner. When the desire to have a dog is real, it is important to be aware of the immense responsibility involved in the presence of a dog in the house, as much for the members of the household as for those living outside.
The responsibility is not limited to the land or the house, it is simply unlimited for the owner of the animal and this, throughout the life of the dog.
Generally speaking, children and animals have a very good relationship and usually become inseparable play partners. However, the relationship between a dog and a child always needs to be monitored, especially with very young children.
The owner’s responsibility is to provide the dog with adequate education and protection for himself and his family.
- Socialize the dog from a very young age.
- Never let your dog roam freely without supervision.
- Provide the dog with a fenced and safe enclosure for himself and others.
- Never leave unattended young children with a dog.
- Monitor children when walking the dog or when in contact with him.
- Make sure that children approach the dog carefully and the right way for their own safety and that of the dog as well.
- Teach children how to behave in the presence of a dog. The family dog may tolerate some behaviours while a foreign dog may react quite differently.
- Choose the dog carefully and evaluate all his particular characteristics.
- Have a non-breeding dog spayed or neutered.
- Teach relatives to pet the dog and not hug him, some dogs do not tolerate that at all.
Dog breeds for children
Although all dog breeds can make excellent companions, some dog breeds are basically more patient and more tolerant than others.
Humans often wrongly believe that small races are more apt to respect children. Most of the time, it is the opposite. Small dogs are often less tolerant because their small size makes them feel more vulnerable and they react violently to ensure their survival.
Depending on his character, a Chihuahua can sometimes be more dangerous than a Bullmastiff in the presence of a child. The Bullmastiff is to be watched for his size because he can easily hustle a very young child with his excess of enthusiasm but the Chihuahua can be very aggressive and all the more dangerous than a very large dog.
Dog breeds that are the most patient with children:
- Basset Hound
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Dogo Argentino
- Brittany Spaniel
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- West Highland White Terrier
Regardless of the chosen breed, it is important to be well informed about the basic characteristics of the dog in order to make the right choice. Character, size, need for activity, etc. are all criteria that must be well established before choosing a dog to live with children. Learn more about dog breeds for children.
Avoid choosing a dog to please children. Very young children will not feed, wash or pick up the dog’s droppings. Parents must realize that the responsibility is theirs for the lifetime of the animal.
Since a dog can easily live between 10 and 15 years of age, you must make the right choice and be ready to fully invest to assume such a financial, personal and educational responsibility, as well as the members of the household and its entourage.
It’s important to choose the right dog for the lifestyle of the house and not just because of his looks, which often pleases everyone.
The dog accepts the child as he is without judging him. The dog helps the child become aware of the difference, shape his reaction allowing him to face some situations in a better way.
However, the dog must never be the responsibility of the child but of the parent, and this at all times.
Thus, human beings living with the dog must learn to understand the dog’s way of functioning and respect his limits so that it is possible for dogs and humans to live together in total harmony for as long as possible.
A dog is a wonderful companion for all members of the family. A respected and happy dog usually makes his family the happiest of all, always ready to protect them against everyone and love them more than anything else, often without asking for anything in return.
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