When I announced I was pregnant last year, the question I heard most was, “How do you think your dogs will be with a baby?” My three dogs were – and are – a huge part of our family, and though I never quite understood why anyone assumed we’d “give up” even one of them, I will admit I had some concerns about bringing a baby into the mix. Would the dogs be jealous of the attention the baby received from me and Brian? Would they be spooked by the baby’s noises? Would the baby be allergic to the dogs? I did a bit of research during my pregnancy and was comforted by the fact that it seemed most issues could be worked out, should they arise.
Fortunately, we had a pretty seamless introduction between the dogs and little Brian (B2). There was definitely a lot of curiosity when we brought him home, but they quickly accepted the new baby into our family. Even still, Brian and I continue to watch the dogs’ interaction with B2 closely. They are animals, after all, and it is our responsibility as parents to ensure a safe environment for every member of our family.
This week, May 18-24, is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and I’d like to share some tips from ASPCA behaviorists on keeping kids safe around dogs. Dog bite injuries are the third leading cause of emergency room admission for children, just behind bicycle and baseball injuries*, so it’s important to speak with your kids about these dog safety tips:
1. Ask permission from the dog’s guardian before petting an unfamiliar dog.
2. Let a dog smell your hand before petting him or her. Then pet the dog on the shoulders or chest, not the head.
3. Tell an adult immediately if you see a dog off-leash outside. Do not approach the dog yourself.
4. If a dog does lash out, “feed” the dog your jacket, bag, or anything you can put between you and the dog.
1. Touch or interrupt a dog who is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or bone. Dogs are more likely to bite if they’re startled or frightened.
2. Go near or pet dogs behind fences, dogs in cars, or dogs chained or tied up in yards. Dogs can be protective of their home or space.
3. Panic. If a loose dog is running toward you, avoid eye contact with the dog and stand very still, like a tree, until the dog moves away.
4. Chase or tease a dog.
More information can be found on the ASPCA website here.
*According to the AVMA