Kids and Dogs
When kids are involved in selecting a new family dog, it is especially important to find the right match. We would like to share some information with you regarding appropriate and safe interactions between young kids and rescued Labradors. These two videos are very informative: I Speak Doggie (great to watch with kids!) and Stop the 77.
We cannot state strongly enough the importance of supervising young kids around a new dog. This can be especially critical when toys, treats and food are involved. We suggest having a plan for what to do with the dog when your attention is elsewhere and you can’t be closely watching the interaction between the kids and the dog. We recommend using baby gates or having a dog bed and water in another room for the dog so that you can quickly and easily move the dog to provide safe separation from the kids. Dogs should not be allowed to sleep in the same room with young kids, due to the lack of parental supervision.
It is important to teach the kids how to read a dog’s warning signs that indicate discomfort so they know when they need to give the dog a break and some space. These warning signs can include nervous switching of the tail, flattening of the ears, and attempts to back away or escape the encounter. Escalated and extreme warnings include snarling of the lips, showing of teeth, and growling. When this occurs the next escalation is usually a bite. We never want it to escalate to this point, so parental supervision is very important.
The following actions are NOT acceptable, and kids must be managed appropriately to avoid them:
- Pinching, pulling, or tugging on any part of the dog
- Climbing on the dog or attempting to “ride” the dog
- Getting in the dog’s face or personal space, including hugging or grabbing the dog
- Rough housing or wrestling with the dog
- Playing tug of war with the dog
- Teasing or taunting the dog
- Taking food, toys or treats away from the dog
This article from dog trainer Amy Weeks includes very helpful information about how to avoid dog bites as well as important tips for supervising young kids around dogs. https://positively.com/contributors/becoming-a-bite-free-nation/
It will be very important to keep the dog away from any potential choking hazards/small toys/kids’ items that could be swallowed and could cause dangerous obstructions. It takes time for a dog that is new to your home to understand which toys are theirs and are okay to chew.
Of course over time your family and the dog will get to know each other and you will be able to evaluate how comfortable the dog is with the kids and what level of supervision is appropriate. The main thing is to educate the kids about giving the dog time to get to know them and feel comfortable with them before getting in the dog’s space.
We have learned from our trainers that it is best to always have an adult hold the leash when kids are walking with the dog. Behavioral issues can arise when kids walk the dogs without adults and they encounter loose or aggressive dogs, wildlife, etc. The dog may overcompensate to protect the kids, and serious issues (including leash aggression) can quickly develop. This can suddenly become an unsafe situation for both the kids and the dog. Adult dogs are generally very strong and can be hard for an adult to control, so it could easily pull a child over.
The bottom line is that we want kids and your new rescued Lab to be as safe as possible and to interact harmoniously together. These cautions are meant to educate and inform and to ensure that the dogs we work hard to rescue are placed in appropriate homes. Some rescue groups do not allow young families to adopt, but we feel that with the right education and with dedicated parents, kids can benefit from the wonderful experience of caring for a dog.