Saturday, 26 September 2015

Dogs and Kids

...Without Even Realizing It.
By: Leah Hatley and Justine Schuurmans
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Could you be one of them? Chances are, yes, and not because you’re a bad parent, but because dogs are so often misunderstood. So don’t feel bad if you’ve made a few mistakes; we’re here to help you fix them.

Can you plead guilty to any of these?

1.  Taking pictures of your kids “loving up” your dog
Parents love pictures of their kids smooching their dog - sadly, most dogs aren’t fans.

So asking your kid to trap your dog in a hug and then pose face to face is uncomfortable for your dog and risky for your kid. 
The fix: Teach your kids to ALWAYS pet gently with ONE hand (it’s less tempting to hug). And if your pup can’t sit still for a picture (without being held) take candid shots of everyone having fun safely instead.

2.  Letting your kids approach dogs any time they choose
In the dog world there are times when it’s just not cool to be all up in each other’s bees-wax. When it comes to eating, chewing, sleeping, or being confined it’s polite to let them be. Even the nicest dogs can snap when interrupted one too many times. 
The fix:  Teach kids when to have fun with dogs, and when to give them the space they need.

3.  Asking the owner, not the dog
Parents are great at reminding their kids to ask the dogs’ owner before petting. But the problem is that 99% of owners say ‘yes’ regardless of whether the dog actually likes children. The good news is that the dog will tell you herself how she feels, so make SURE to ask her too. 
The fix: Tell your kids to wait 6 feet away and encourage the dog over. If she happily goes up to them, then game on!  If not, it’s totally cool to pick another dog or another day.

4.  Grabbing stuff from your dog’s mouth
It seems harmless enough to make your dog give up stuff she shouldn’t have, right? After all, she could trash it or earn herself a trip to the vet. True, but it’s HOW you do it that counts. Without meaning to, you can easily train a dog to be dangerous around stolen goods by constantly taking them away without giving anything back. BIG RED FLAG! Dogs who are worried about people taking something they have are way more likely to bite, and kids are often the easiest targets. 
The fix: Teach your dog to LOVE giving things up by always offering her something better in exchange.

Now if you’re reading this and thinking “my dog would never…” sadly, we can tell you that when pushed many dogs WILL. But which ones? A cute-o-meter certainly won’t tell you - so help your kids be dog-savvy by teaching them how to act around ALL dogs, and what better place to start than at home?

Leah Hatley and Justine Schuurmans are professional trainers and owners of, a website that specializes in educating the whole family on how to interact with their dog or puppy. To learn more about the online program and see free training videos visit


  1. This is excellent advice. I love dogs too but I always make sure that I am the first one to approach the dog, calmly. I get the dog to smell my hand and I can usually tell if its friendly or not. Then my little one can pet the dog.

  2. My little one loves our dog but we are mindful of safety becausr she is a big dog. That said, we are trying to teach our child that she can't just go up to random dogs and expect them to be freindly even though she loves them. Her first word was dog!

  3. Yeah this is important. And there's people who walk their dogs without leashes!!!! What is wrong with them?

  4. This is really great advice, it anyone around me will bring his children to a dog, I'll try to remember this!

  5. Being afraid of dogs since I was bitten by one as a small child. These days I don't run anyomre but I need a lot of time until I feel kind of comfortable next to a dog. I know usually it is the owner who is to blame and well, some might not even know what they are doing so those tips are a good thing to pass along!

  6. This is such great advice, thanks for posting it, Laura!