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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Preventing Aggression To Children

Pets and Children - Q&A

Aggression-Toward Family Members - Q&A


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Keep children safe by teaching them to recognize potentially threatening canine communication. If children do not recognize canine threat postures, they may be bitten or worse.

Pet-child interactions can be wonderful for pets and children when teaching a child to be gentle and respectful to animals. Studies show that animal abuse in children is correlated to adult aggression to people.  Teaching your children to be humane helps build a healthier society.

Supervision is the key

Supervise children until you are SURE they are trustworthy and know how to treat and respond safely to the dog.

When you first introduce children to dogs, use a positive, calm yet jolly voice tone and have the dog on-leash (preferably with a head collar/halter). Pick a time when the dog has been exercised and is relaxed.

You want the dog to think that children are powerful, friendly cookie givers. Stand behind the child and put your hand on the child's hand as you ask the dog to sit for a treat. Show the child how to close an upward fist when asking for the sit and then opening the fingers to a flat hand to deliver the treat when the dog sits.

Show the child how to approach the dog and stroke the dog from the side, not from the front, and to not on the dog's head. Instruct the child to ask the dog to sit or down for a treat or ball and to be stroked. Make sure the child gives the dog loving praise along with the treat or toy for compliance.

Remind children never to shriek or wave their hands wildly around around dogs. Instead, have children demonstrate to you how they move slowly around dogs with their hands at their sides, speaking in a calm, happy voice tone. 

One reason we enjoy pets is because we can cuddle and play with them.  This joy can turn into injury of the pet or the person if guidelines are not followed.

It's best and safest for the child if the dog perceives every human in the household as controlling all the dogs favorite needs and wants such as food, toys, access in and out of doors, etc.

Young children, even toddlers, can learn to ask the dog to sit before releasing a food treat but ONLY if the adult is RIGHT BEHIND them as back up to avoid the dog jumping and knocking over the child. The dog should learn basic instructions from adults first.

Guidelines for dog cuddling

If the dog is small, you may be able to have the child sit on the floor and then place the dog in the child's lap to be stroked. Make sure the dog is relaxed or sleepy. You offer the dog treats as you instruct the child how to gently stroke and cuddle the dog. If your child wants to cuddle the dog, instruct the child to sit on the floor and invite the dog to lay on the child's lap. Begin a cuddling routine that can continue throughout dog's entire life.

Most people do not want the dog up on the furniture, unless the dog is small and invited. Dogs who climb on furniture at will may leave dirt or other material from outdoors along with shedding fur, fleas or flea dirt on the furniture.

Big dogs may add to the wear and tear of furniture, including your bed.

It is best to begin house rules when the dog is a puppy. It is harder on you and the dog to start with one set of rules for the puppy and then try to change the rules for the adult dog.

Improving Relationships between People and Pets!

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