As lovable as dogs are, they should never be left alone with babies or children. Teach your children some simple rules to keep your home safe.
Always stay with children when there’s a dog around, especially children who are visiting.
Never leave children alone with a dog, even to answer the door or go to the toilet.
If you tie your dog up in a public place, consider using a muzzle.
Never tie a dog leash to the baby’s pram; hold the leash in your hand.
Dogs should have their own toys. If a dog has taken your child’s toy, and the child tries to get their toy back from the dog, the dog may bite them.
Teach your child:
not all dogs are as friendly as their own dog.
how to understand ‘dog language’ (why dogs behave the way they do, and how they might be protecting their property or the family).
to ask the owner’s permission before patting a dog
to be ‘like a stone’ if they fall over, or a dog knocks them to the ground
to be ‘as still as a statue’ if a dog rushes at them
Don’t try to discipline a dog.
Don’t tease or annoy dogs.
Don’t scream or run away, or stare a dog in the eyes.
Don’t approach a dog that is eating, sleeping, has puppies, or is hurt.
Don’t hug or kiss dogs. Face-to-face contact is a common cause of bites to the face.
Visit www.dogsafety.govt.nz for more information about dog safety or get a copy of the booklet Keeping our children safe around dogs: Guidelines for safe interaction from the University of Waikato Research Commons. Also available in te reo.