Play it safe: Kids and K9s

With the holidays quickly approaching, many homes will children on the guest list. If you have a dog, it is key to take precautions to keep everyone safe. Train your dog as to what play is appropriate and always supervise kids and k9s to avoid tragedy.

If we play as if we are a dog, we can expect to be treated like a dog.

Dogs are wonderful members of our families, but we have to remember that they are a different species. Nature programmed dogs to be able to sniff things out, use their teeth and claws to play, and to chase down prey to eat it. Knowing this, it is a wise decision not to rough house, wrestle or play chase with our dogs.

I’ve known a lot of dog’s in my life and there is not one that I would readily get on the floor and wrestle with as if I were a dog. Why? Not only are these animals faster and stronger than us, they are predators. If we are on the ground they certainly have the advantage over us. A child is at a serious disadvantage is this scenario.

Even with dogs that are the best of friends, playtime can become dangerous quickly.

Dogs have thicker skin and fur to buffer themselves when play gets out of hand. Dogs not only use barks, growls and yips to communicate when play has gone too far but they also have ears, tails and a body that is designed to communicate all sorts of things to other dogs.

We humans may be able to mimic the sounds a dog makes but we lack the ability to communicate as they do because we don’t have the ears and tails to help us do the talking. Dogs also have a variety of “postures” like the infamous play bow that as much as we might try, we can’t quite copy these things.

Here is short list of safe play options for kids and K9s: fetch, ta game of “find it!”, hide and seek (only if the dog does the seeking and kids don’t run!), +R training session, tricks, or a game of tug (as long as rules of tug are followed!). There are other safe options for kids and K9s to play, this is a short list.

We need to teach our dogs how to play with humans.

Part of that is reliant upon us NOT behaving in ways that can activate some of a dog’s innate tendencies to chase, hunt and use their teeth. If we squeal, wave our arms wildly and hop around we can unintentionally invite a dog to chase us and possibly use their teeth. Some dogs have far more self-control than others.

Not all dogs will behave this way but why chance it by inviting the behavior? Get to know your dog and put playtime on pause when Fifi is overly excited. You remember when you were in school and you were so excited about recess it was hard to pay attention? Or when you’re over-stimulated and you played too rough with your friend? This can happen with our dogs.

When the dog is over-stimulated (no longer responding to cues and otherwise acting wild) you need to step back and put playtime on pause. Let Fifi regain some composure and the ability to play appropriately.

Leave dogs alone when they eat.

Do you want someone coming over to give you a hug, rub your head or otherwise mess with you while you are eating? It is likely that you don’t. Well, the same goes for our canine companions. Now, there are all sorts of theories that a dog should tolerate you messing with their food bowl – but why do this? Rather, teach kids not to mess with dogs who are eating, have a chew, Kong or anything else food related.

These are just a few tips to help keep kids safe around dogs. The focus for this post is on playtime but throwing in the tips about food is always a good measure. In order to keep both dogs and kids safe, supervision and actively teaching what is appropriate behavior for both behaviors is key.

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels