Dogs and children

Dogs and children can be great friends and having a dog can help children develop kindness, understanding and respect for living things. Dog companionship can improve a child's social skills with people while caring for a pet can encourage responsibility.

Because of this, many families have dogs. Children quickly understand and learn to treat the dog as part of the family, but it¿s important that parents teach children how to stay safe around dogs, to protect both child and dog.

Dogs and children communicate differently

From a dog's point of view, children communicate differently to adults; they cry, yell, shriek, crawl and run about flailing their arms. Dogs find it hard to understand children, and even harder to tell them when they want to be left alone!

Children often treat dogs as their peers; they hug, cuddle, hold and scold them. Children express affection for their family through close facial contact e.g. kissing. While this may seem sweet, a dog may find this threatening and it can be quite dangerous.

For these reasons, young children are more likely to be bitten than any other group and research shows that children are far more likely to be bitten by their family dog than any others. However, there are lots of things you can do to make sure your child is safe and your dog is happy.

Our top tips for keeping kids safe and dogs happy

Watch our video of top tips from our very own Samantha Gaines, mother to a toddler, dog owner and dog welfare expert.

Helping children and dogs to enjoy living together

Take a look at our 6 Golden Rules for a quick guide on keeping children and dogs safe, and learn to recognise important body language signals.

Children often treat dogs as their peers; they hug, cuddle, hold and scold them. Children express affection for their family through close facial contact e.g. kissing. While this may seem sweet, a dog may find this threatening and it can be quite dangerous.

For these reasons young children are more likely to be bitten than any other group and research shows that children are far more likely to be bitten by their family dog than any others. However, there are lots of things you can do to make sure your child is safe and your dog is happy.

To learn more, download our leaflets and posters:

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