Children (and adults) often want to show affection and love to their canine companions by giving their pup lots of hugs and kisses. Did you know that dogs don’t like hugs? In fact, hugs and close (unwanted) contact can result in uncomfortable interactions for your dog.
Our behaviors as humans sometimes do not translate to our animal friends. Dogs perceive hugs as a form of dominance. When your child or you hug your dog, you are telling your dog that you are trying to control and dominate them.
Teaching your child how to properly interact with your dog can be life-saving. Each year dogs bite more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. and children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites. http://www.dogsbite.org/
Here are some tips to creating positive interactions at home and a safe environment for both human and canine family members.
- Allow your children to play with your family dog in a way that benefits both kids and pup. Playing outside, like fetch, can offer both child and dog much-needed exercise.
- Avoid rough play, like wrestling, because this type of behavior can escalate and potentially turn into a bite – even if unintentional. It also teaches your dog that aggressive behavior is acceptable.
- Even if it appears that your dog is tolerating close interaction, avoid face-to-face contact – such as hugging and kissing. Dogs don’t it like when their personal space is encroached upon.
- Your dog should feel safe in their home. Your child should be redirected or corrected if they are hurting the dog such as sitting on them or pulling ears, tails, fur, and skin. All of these things are painful for your dog and if allowed to continue, your dog may react negatively.
- Dogs are possessive over their things especially when it comes to food, treats, toys and sleeping spots. That being said, your child should avoid engaging with your dog while he’s eating, playing with his favorite toy or sleeping.
- Don’t let your kids tug at your dog’s collar or neck. This is perceived as threatening and could result in an aggressive reaction by your pup.
- If your dog walks or looks away from your child, it’s time to stop the interaction. This is a clear message from your dog that they are no longer interested in participating. This applies to positive interactions like scratching or petting.
- Finally, be the cheerleader and protector of your dog. If you’re stopping the inappropriate play by your child, your dog will sense that you have it under control. If you continue to let your child have rough or stressful interactions with your dog, your dog might take things into his own hands.