Everybody who has grown up with a dog knows what wonderful companions they can make for children. They're your comforter, best friend and playmate all rolled into one furry package. It's great for children to learn the responsibility of a dog from an early age but parents must always ensure that their children act appropriately around dogs.
To help advise parents, and to keep children and dogs safe, National RSPCA has released some guidelines. Have a read of their press release below:
"With the school summer holidays upon us, children and dogs will be spending more time together and the RSPCA has produced advice for parents and children to help make sure this time is spent safely.
According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, in the 12 months to January 2014, the age group with the highest number of hospital admissions for dog bites was children aged between 0-9 years old. Hospital injury data also show that young children are more likely to be bitten by a family dog than one they don’t know.
The RSPCA believes a key factor in reducing bite related incidents is understanding dog behaviour and how to interact safely around them.
That is why the RSPCA has worked in partnership with internationally-acclaimed vet and animal behaviourist Dr Sophia Yin to launch a series of materials aimed at teaching children how they should and should not interact with dogs, as well as a leaflet for parents highlighting different behaviours dogs use depending on how they feel.
Dr Sam Gaines, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA said, “As a mother and dog owner myself, it is clear that children and dogs can be really great friends and dogs can help children develop kindness, understanding and respect for living things. Having a dog as a friend can improve a child’s social skills with people and caring for a pet can encourage responsibility.”
“However, it is important parents teach children how to interact with dogs in a safe way and understand and recognise dog behaviour so they can keep both happy, safe and relaxed,” she added.
The RSPCA has put together the ‘Six Golden Rules' for keeping kids safe and dogs happy:
The RSPCA also recommends providing your dog with a cosy spot in a quiet room where the dog can retreat to if they need their own space and teach your child to leave your dog alone when they are in their private spot.
There are plenty of fun and safe games that kids can play with their dog to strengthen their bond with the family pet.
These include things like hiding treats in the garden for the dog to find and playing games like fetch or training simple tricks like roll over, high five, give a paw, hide and seek.
The RSPCA has produced posters, leaflets and a short video to help support parents. For more information please go to:http://www.rspca.org.uk/safeandhappy"
For further information and advice, have a look at the National RSPCA website here.