My Dog Bit My Child
Have you ever said the words:
“My dog bit my child! He’s a bad, bad dog!”
“I am giving him to a shelter, he bit my child!”
“He’s going to be put to sleep (PTS) because he bit my child!”
What you should be asking is:
“Why has my dog bit my child?”
Fact: The vast majority of dog bites that occur in children happen to children under 12 years old. In the majority of cases the dog is familiar with the child, I.E. the dog is the family pet.
Children should be taught how to behave around a dog, in which, the responsibility falls to you the parent. If you don’t know what to do, consult a trainer, whether a trainer advertises a dog bite prevention/child safety program on their page or not they WILL be able to give you advise.
On the internet, I have seen many, many images and videos where I am left feeling sorry for the dog (and the child if the child is being allowed to continue bad behaviour with the dog) while the parents think its fun and entertaining.
Dogs can be very patient animals and will put up with a child’s behaviour for a long time before finally lashing out. Below are some short, clear scenario’s that highlight instances that may result in the dog biting your child.
“My child holds/pulls his ears and tail.” - This is not cute nor funny, dogs do not like this.
“My child purposely falls/jumps on the dog.” - Again not acceptable, it is not playing, it is annoying.
“My child likes to pick the dog up and carry him around like a doll/or puts him in the pram to push him around.” - Dogs are not toys, this will also result in dog bites and the dog does not want to be treated this way. It is not cute, it is very stressful to the dog. ”My child offers the dog food and then pulls it away giggling.” - NO! Stop tormenting the dog, this will teach the dog to snatch food and/or bite as he has become fed up of being teased.
“My child thinks its funny to smack the dog.” - Some children do go through a phase where they think smacking is okay. The child needs to be taught that this will annoy the dog and will potentially bite back and it will hurt.
“My child hugged the dog and he bit her.” - To the child they’re being affectionate, to the dog they feel trapped and may not like how tight the child is squeezing. They will do anything to get free.
“My child was bit, the dog was in pain due to X, could this be why?” - Yes. A dog that is in pain will bite. Just like a human shouting ‘ouch’ and slapping at you to get you away, it is the same thing the dog is trying to say except all they can do is use their mouth if you missed other warnings.
“My dog bit my child, my neighbour asked if I had taught bite inhibition.” - Puppies play fight, they rough-house, they use their mouth. If you didn’t teach your dog not to bite, that its not acceptable they will still try to communicate this way.
“My friend (sister, brother etc.) fetched her children around, the dog growled/refused interaction.” - Just like humans, dogs can dislike children and not have any tolerance for them.
“They were just playing.” - Dogs can become over stimulated and bite when a child becomes overexcited.
“My dogs so grumpy since he became old.” - So just like humans can then? Old, tired and want to be left alone. They don’t want to live with a child who knows no bounds.
How will I know when my dogs had enough?
- A dog may get up and move away from the child - signifying to leave them alone.
- The dog looks away from your child - another sign of leave me alone.
- The dog gives you a ‘pleading’ expression - this is them asking you to stop whatever is happening.
- The whites of the dogs eyes are showing - this is a huge warning to go away.
- The dog yawns as the child approaches or during interaction - this is not a sign of tiredness this is a sign of stress.
- Lip licking - another warning of get away from me I am reaching the end of my patience.
- The dog suddenly starts biting, scratching or licking himself - he’s trying to distract himself from whatever is happening that he doesn’t like. He is stressed.
- After interaction with the child the dog shakes as though wet - this is another sign of stress and he’s literally trying to shake it off.
- The dog growls - this is an obvious sign and can sometimes be too late by the time you get here.
- The dog snaps at your child - get your child away.
This may make owning a dog sound difficult but with the right knowledge and support a child and a dog can be raised together. If you do have concerns always consult a trainer and don’t assume that every dogs tolerance level is the same because it isn’t.