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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  Worth the Risk?
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Monday, July 8,2019

Worth the Risk?

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  

Animals are living, breathing, sentient beings. It’s more likely that you share your home with a dog (or two or more) than with any other species. Perhaps your dog grew up with you, transitioning through childhood, college, adulthood, moves, jobs and relationships. Your best friend may be considered as your first-born child. You might have been together prior to meeting your partner/spouse. Busy schedules, work, and the addition of two-leggeds (children) to your household all affect dogs’ lives. Yet dogs never complain, and love us unconditionally.

 

Every day, I cringe. With the holidays approaching, it’s bound to get worse. Especially on social media, where people share pictures of their toddlers/young children kissing the dog on the nose/head, lying upon or riding the dog.

Having known several dogs who were rehomed (and a few euthanized) after bite incidents (instigated by young children), I offer this heartfelt, salty commentary. It is my intention to increase awareness, avoid unnecessary risks and children being injured.

Accidents happen. They can happen to you - even though YOU:

• Had dogs your whole life

• Have had your dog since it was a puppy

• Know your dog and your child love each other

• Believe your dog would never knowingly harm your child

• Think you can accurately predict any living thing’s every action

Kids mimic our behavior. They see us kiss the dog, they want to kiss the dog. Child in dog’s face plus agitated/older/assertive/unknown dog can be a recipe for disaster. Young children get bitten, usually in the face, being eye level. Is your dog’s life worth this risk?

As your child is now the center of your universe, your dog is directly affected by the time, energy and attention now devoted to the noisy little newcomer. Kids can be loud, act erratically and literally be off balance. Toddlers may grab, pull, crawl upon or bounce into the dog. They don’t mean anything by it, but that is not the message the dog receives. Warning nips, barks and bites occur. Accident reports are filed, the dog may be quarantined, surrendered and possibly euthanized. All because you gambled on the false sense of security of those bulleted statements above. Is your dog’s life really worth that risk? Or a child’s facial disfigurement, injury or worse?

Expert dog trainer, mom to rescued dogs and a nearly two-year old son, Dee Hoult, MBA, CDBC, CPDT, CTDI shares her top three tips concerning dogs and kids:

1. Parents must always actively supervise children and dogs, together. Eyeballs on.

2. Understand your dog’s comfort level. Are they just tolerating the child’s behavior?

3. Watch for cues (yawning, lip licking, eye movement) that the dog has had enough.

4. If you are adding a dog to your family, chose by breed/mix, age and temperament. A calm dog, NOT a puppy, is suggested.

Teach children to respect all living things. Dogs have needs, including to be left alone, eat without interruption and to have their boundaries respected.

We all have had days where we acted out of character, lost our temper, did or said something we later regretted. When pushed to the limits, people can act without thinking – sometimes with dire, criminal consequences.

As dogs age, they may be in pain, suffer from cognitive disorders, or seem grouchy. Set a loving example for kids to follow, including delayed gratification (we can’t always do what we want to do, when we want to do it).

Any living thing can be unpredictable, please do not take unnecessary risks. There’s only ONE thing you can count on, while on this wondrous Earth: gravity. Best to err on the side of caution.


 

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