Dogs & Toddlers
Most family pets are very reliable with children, even toddlers who are, by nature, somewhat disrespectful and rough. So often, a family dog is a real treasure for the growing child and can be very character-forming and a store of wonderful memories can build up during childhood. However, heart-rending stories hit the news, every so often, of terrible injuries and even death caused to children (esp. toddlers), inflicted by a family dog. Occasionally, the primitive nature of a dog can take the upper hand, particularly in a ‘pack' situation.
The advice must be:
- No matter how reliable a dog seems, do not leave a toddler alone with the dog. No dog can be considered 100% safe. The risks are too high.
- As early as possible, try to instil in a toddler a respect for dogs and their personal space.
- Avoid balls, bones, sweets, treats and other cherished objects being around when a toddler is with the dog.
- Avoid situations in which a dog may feel rejected or jealous.
- Avoid boisterous noisy games with a toddler around the dog. An excited dog can go too far, especially if there are several dogs.
- Avoid toddler interference around the dog's meal times.
- Do not leave uneaten food lying around.
- A bitch on heat can behave differently or make other dogs and bitches behave differently. Hormonal influences can drastically alter the prevailing dynamic in a household.
- These points become even more important when more than one dog is around.
- These points may be more important when the toddler is a visitor to the house, e.g. in a grandparent's home.
- Wide open spaces, away from a dog's territory, are generally safer, although vigilance is always necessary.