By: Georgina Bradley
Safety is always first and foremost when kids and dogs are together. Recently, we asked Georgina Bradley, Dog Stars expert dog trainer for The Bone & Bowl to provide some insight into how we can best inform and educate parents and dog owners alike so that they know what to watch and when to intervene, in order to create a happy environment with children and dogs together.
Georgina has tons of great information about understanding dogs and how they speak to us. Here’s some of her top tips to help keep your kidlets safe so that they enjoy their furry friends.
Signs of Stress | Dog Body Language
Dogs will display signs of stress (also known as calming signals ) to show that they are feeling uncomfortable with the situation they are in. They show calming signals to help others recognize that they are trying to calm down. If these signals go unnoticed and the stress continues, the dog will grown agitated and may have to resort to more obvious signals.
Keeping a watchful eye and observing the dog’s body language may help prevent a situation from going sideways. If these signs are seen, immediately slow down the interaction or interrupt the greeting. Give the dog a break, create space and calmness back into the environment for all. Stress signs are indicators that the dog may be unhappy ~ ideally end the interaction with the dog or remove what stimuli is creating the stress.
Obvious signs to avoid approaching a dog
* Hackles up – hair on their back is straight up
* Baring teeth – snarling
Subtle Signs of stress in a dog – Immediately slow down or remove what is happening to the dog.
* Turning head away
* Turning their whole body away
*Getting up and walking away
How to ‘listen’ to a dog’s body language. Meet Frodo.
# 1 – Frodo is feeling stressed – licking lips, tail tucked and not sure about the situation. His tail is tucked, eyes wide. If you’re unsure of situation – Allow dog to approach you when they are ready. Avoid adding pressure to the dog – they may be not ready for a visit.
# 2 – Frodo is in need of space – body posture is low and leaning away – He’s warning for things to stop or to go away, his eyes are wide and staring not blinking, ears are back and wide eyes say: Please keep your distance.
# 3 – Frodo is happy and relaxed – playfully bowing, tail wagging and relaxed soft eyes. This is a welcoming posture and he’s feeling happy about life.
Here are some more tips to keep both children and dogs safe and happy when they’re together.
- Teaching children that are closer to school age (4-5 years old) to interact with dogs, as they have an ability to learn the guidelines and adhere to them rather than younger children ( under 4 years old )
- Make sure dogs are ok with adults in and around their home, toys and food bowls, and before having children present themselves in similar situations.
- Dogs can become protective around their toys and/or food – avoid leaving objects that your dog or someone else’s dog may feel like they have to protect or guard when people or kids are around. Children can be perceived as more threatening to dogs because they are closer to the dog’s level.
- Avoid leaving a child or baby alone with dogs – no matter how much you trust either party. With proper supervision and monitoring, any altercation may be averted by adult supervision.
- Have your dog or a visiting dog be well exercised before having children around – this can help the dog be less excited/ stressed if there is lots of children activity or excitement
- Children need to be cautioned about how to approach a dog –
- avoid kissing or hugging a dog – for a dog to accept a kiss or a hug from a person they need to be very comfortable – otherwise they may get upset and retaliate