Dec 14, 2009

Your Worst Nightmare - An Untrained Dog Around A Child

Dear Wendy,

Thanks so much for your invitation to chat on your Nov. 24, 2009 Animal Talk Radio Show. My hope is that dogs and kids are safe in each other’s company. Just think, we might have saved a dog from going to the pound or shelter or a child from serious dog bite because of your wonderful Radio Show! Here’s a recap of our lively discussion:

Children who love dogs but don’t know how to care for them can get into serious trouble! Until a child is about 10 or 11, I believe in direct adult supervision of a child near a dog. We don’t want either to “learn the hard way”, after the fact. Avoid the nips, snarls, and snapping from a fearful dog who is misunderstood or mistreated by a child. A dog is not a cuddly stuffed animal or doll baby. So be watchful of that stranger’s dog tied up outside your grocery store when you and your child go shopping! A leashed dog can often be more aggressive.

Just like we want our children to be individuals who are nice to be with, we want our dogs to be accepted and enjoyed. Dogs want to trust their DOG Guardians, to feel safe with children, to know that a kid is not going to hurt it, tease it, make it afraid, ignore it or make it lonely or unloved. Dogs react to everything their humans do.

Just like a child who is ignored and not well-tended, a dog will act-out badly if it isn’t included in family life appropriately. Give your dog every chance to learn YOUR rules. Take the whole family to Puppy School!

As a professional educator, I see that children learn best in hands-on, experiential ways so the best thing is to take them to Dog training classes. All can benefit from training – the dogs, the children, the whole family. Be on the same page for skills and techniques for success.

Dogs thrive in a kind world. My own Shiitzu, Elvis, was a shelter dog so badly teased by kids his life was miserable until we worked to regain his trust. Whereas, Fonzi, our Cockapoo is friendly, well-mannered and likes children because he was properly socialized by his breeder’s children who understood the correct ways to handle puppies.

Dog Training is a big “Learning Curve” that makes all the difference in kids’ and dogs’ lives. The cute little character in my activity book, Hap the Pup, says, “Teach Kidz 2 Train Dogz”! It’s Fun!

Suzanne Pierson
……songwriter, author and illustrator of
“Hap the Pup: a Dog’z Guide 4 Kidz” Activity Book and CD”
helping new dog families through activities, games, tips and more
featuring a favorite kid’s singalong and EZPlay Piano score of
“The Puppy Song”.

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