During this time of shelter-in-place, you’re spending a lot more time together as a family. Most of the extra time together is good, but there may be some negative consequences as new routines are being established. Recently I was informed of an incident involving a family dog biting a five year old child who crawled into the dog crate while the dog was sleeping. After hearing this, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how some of these new daily routines could impact your child and dog. Let’s help educate your child about making good decisions with the family dog, and avoid potentially bad incidents like a bite.
Children who are normally gone for many hours of the day, expending energy at school, are now spending their days at home. The routine for the dog is probably different too. They may not have as much time to rest as usual, and there is constant sound and movement in the house from family members. Some dogs may love the extra family around, but others may not.
All this extra togetherness just increases the likelihood of a potential incident happening. Supervision is always important when it comes to dogs and kids, but realistically you just can’t watch everything all the time. So what else can you do? Try taking some time to establish clear boundaries and rules with your children regarding your dog(s). Looking back on the incident with the young child mentioned earlier, it’s likely that the dog was startled while asleep and reacted. It could also be that the dog was protecting its space. It’s difficult to prevent all bad things from happening, but this is a good time to be proactive with basic child/dog safety tips.
If your child is old enough to have a conversation, go over some basic tips to help your child learn when to give space and undisturbed rest time to the dog. Space should always be given when a dog is eating and sleeping. Don’t assume your child knows all of the basics. If you need a simple child/dog safety tool that covers many of the basic tips, the Stop, Look & Paws sticker set, that was designed for parents to use with children, can be a big help. It’s also something fun for your child, because they get to sort 12 reusable dog stickers into safe-to-pet or not-safe-to-pet sections on a game board.