Your News: Setting boundaries to prevent a dog bite

Dog trainer Karen Wild
Dog trainer Karen Wild
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The recent news is filled with awful injuries, even deaths, of children after bites from family dogs. We hear that a dog breed type is to blame, but statistics show the majority of bite incidents involving children and dogs happen with all breeds.

Even the beloved Golden Retriever can inflict serious injury. How can we protect our own children when we bring dogs into our families?

It is hard to admit that your own pet dog is not trustworthy. Ironically, parents agree that at times children can behave badly, so why not accept this about your dog? If your dog growls at your child you may make excuses for them both, but it is better to be realistic.

Understanding and calm, fair training all help. We no longer call ourselves ‘pack leader’, and being harsh makes bites more likely. Even so, boundaries must exist for both dogs and kids.

When your dog appears bothered, (yawning, licking lips, moving away), STOP – INTERVENE – TEACH (or ‘S-I-T’)! Whatever is causing your dog stress, ‘Stop’.

Carrying on just leads you closer to a bite. Next, calmly ‘Intervene’, removing dog, or child (whichever is safest)! Finally, ‘Teach’ both child and dog to behave more appropriately in future.

Aggression is not an issue for a dog training class, nor for inexperienced or unregistered ‘experts’. Ask your vet to refer you to a properly registered and qualified APBC behaviourist (you could claim on your pet insurance for help).

Taking early signs seriously is the best chance you have of making sure there are no more growls or tears.