Pet Behavior


Children & Pets

Ideas to help keep children and pets safe

Any dog can bite in the right circumstances.  This does not make them bad dogs.  They are just dogs and owners often, unknowingly, put them in situations that are unfair.

The sweetest, least aggressive dog in the world may feel forced to bite, to defend themselves, when being chased by a fast moving toddler.  Young children have no concept of potential danger and will grab ears, tails and lips and pull or hit.  They are just doing what kids do.  Dogs will just do what dogs do.

Never leave children alone with dogs.  Not even for 10 seconds.  If you can’t be right there with them, then separate them.

Most people have no qualms about using baby gates to keep their children safe from stairs and other hazards.  Use these same gates to provide both kids, and the dogs safety and quiet time.  Your dog might never bite, but why chance it.  It isn’t worth it to the child and it may change forever how you feel about your beloved pet.

Always give your pets an escape route and a sanctuary.  They need to always be able to get away from the child (the cat, the other dogs, etc.)  if they want to and go to a safe spot that is theirs and theirs alone.

Never allow your child to play in or around your dogs space, kennel or bed.  They will defend what they consider their territory.  This goes for their food too.  Feed dogs someplace quiet and away from traffic.

It is best to teach dogs early to go to their own space or bed while the family is eating.  This prevents food snatching and accidental biting when children are involved.

General Pet Behavior

The number one reason cited for relinquishment of both cats and dogs to shelters is behavioral problems.

For cats, this is often urinary problems.  (See Cats Only).

For dogs, these issues can range from aggression to potty training difficulties and everything in between.

Unfortunately, often these problems occur because the owner and dog simply do not understand what the other needs or wants.

A great example:  a dog barks incessantly at the mail truck as it pulls up to the box.  The owner yells at the dog to be quiet from the other room.  The dog continues to bark until the truck pulls away.  From the dogs perspective, this has been a fabulously successful venture.  The evil truck came into his territory, his home turf.  He, in no uncertain terms, told the truck and driver to leave.  The truck left.  Then, even better, the rest of the pack (the family/owner) yelled at the truck too.  What fun!

Changing behaviors is not simple or easy.  It requires dedication and lots of time and patience.  But changing one behavior, often creates a domino effect and changes other problems for the better, or at least makes them easier to modify.  This is about first seeing the situation from the dog perspective and recognizing what is normal dog behavior then figuring out how to teach the dog what behavior you want.

Most people inadvertently go straight to punishment without the teaching part.  Often, professional help is needed in the form of behaviorists, medications and trainers.  We can help access the problem and make recommendations for the next step.


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