IT IS important for all visitors to any home to remember that a dog feels very connected to its family. Their family is their pack. Some dogs may act differently when the adults (leaders) from their pack are not present. The common mistake I see is when this is not at all taken into consideration.
As you interview and get to know the family, ask about the dog. Find out what rules and routines are already in place. Ask about a dog zone or an area for the dog to be where he is comfortable and safe while you focus all of your attention on the children. If you have any fears of dogs or are intimidated by a family dog then this needs to be addressed and taken into consideration. Dogs pick the body language of fear and this may lead to an uncomfortable experience for all.
If there is a dog in the home that you are comfortable with and it is free about the house, please keep the following in mind.
* Some dogs guard items such as food, toys and especially rawhides and pigs ears.
* It is NEVER okay to leave a child and a dog together alone!
* Dogs must be on a leash or fenced in when outside.
* Some dogs are afraid of thunder. They may act differently during a storm. Have a plan!
* Chasing games with a dog are NOT safe.
* Dogs get excited by lots of noise and activity such as jumping, dancing and usual toddler activities. It is best to direct the dog to a quiet place with a treat for him to enjoy.
* Dogs sometimes have allergies or special diets due to a medical condition. It is best not to feed a dog unless you have checked with the adults.
* Hugs can make dogs uncomfortable. Scratching ears or petting the side of the dog's head are great alternatives. Observe the dog's reaction and follow its lead.
Dogs show stress many ways:
* Ears flat back
* Licking their lips
* Tail tucked between their legs
* Seeking a corner or going under furniture
It is ALWAYS a good thing to know where the dog can go in case you or he becomes uncomfortable. Use a treat to lure him to the designated spot. A higher value treat such as cheese or a hot dog may work better then a biscuit.
Most dogs are wonderful and very friendly. It is my intention to raise your understanding so as to create a positive experience for all. It is always best to prevent any potentially dangerous situation from happening. Having a plan sets everyone up for success.
If you have questions or would like more information please contact me at: email@example.com Have fun and stay safe! http://www.familypaws.com
This is the first of a series of articles produced by Family Paws - an organisation that is dedicated to keeping children and dogs safe when together.