It’s pet appreciation week and we all love to take photos of our pets to show to our friends and have as priceless keepsakes as our dogs grow. Facebook and Pinterest are filled with silly pictures of pets and it seems everyone is always trying to up the ante on the “cute” factor. It seems the logic is the only thing that could be cuter than a photo of a dog is a photo of a dog and a child (even an infant), right? WRONG!
We love our kids and we love our dogs but for safety sake we need to appreciate them both separately. The number of dog bites and child and canine fatalities in the news last week alone is alarming.
If you think it could never happen to you, you’re wrong. Here are important things to remember to keep you, your children and your dogs safe:
- EVERY dog can bite regardless of the size, age and personality
- Infants/children and dogs should NEVER be left alone-your dog is not your nanny and should never be left alone with your child, even for a second. We can’t speak with dogs and we don’t always recognize the signs of their distress soon enough to prevent a tragedy.
- Do not expect your dog to comfort a crying baby-While as a parent you recognize the different in a cry between the need for a diaper change and a temper tantrum, your dog doesn’t. A baby crying can be very upsetting to a dog, do not send your dog to comfort a crying baby.
- Know the signs of distress in your dog-While you may think it’s cute when your dog “sings” as your baby cries, this is actually a sign of distress. Panting, licking lips excessively, whining and retreating from the situation are also signs of distress in your dog.
- Teach your kids to respect a dogs space-Teach your kids to have a healthy respect for dogs and their space. This means not entering a yard that has a dog without permission, never approaching a dog without permission from the owner, never putting your face in a dogs face, not bothering dogs when they are sleeping, eating or playing with toys.
Remember that both dogs and infants are unpredictable and can’t communicate as adult humans can. You are the only one who can prevent a tragedy from happening, so love your kids, and your dogs, but under appropriate supervision and with plenty of common sense. When your children are old enough to learn teach them how to respect your dog and his space and never stop reinforcing that education.