My husband and I have always been dog people, we grew up with dogs, in fact in high school my husband helped raised dogs for guiding eyes for the blind and I joined him in college. We knew a LOT about dog behavior and training and when we had kids we never second guessed our child playing with our dog or being around him – until one horrific day.
Loki was a mixed breed Australian Shephard/Terrier Mix. We rescued him at 8 weeks of age from a local shelter and brought him home. He was an incredible dog, affectionate, high energy and full of spirit. He was also high energy, nervous and excitable. 2 years after we got him we had Alexa and they fast became friends. They played together, cuddle together and made messes together. Every once in a while she would do something to bother him, usually when he was resting or stressed and he would growl and we made the mistake of correcting him and saying, “No growl”!
That one one of many mistakes that led to a horrific accident when she was three years old.
We had just moved into a new house and had been there for about 3 weeks. Loki was not a huge fan of change but seemed to be handling it well. We had also recently started a new flea and tick medication called Nitenpyram. I was folding laundry in the bedroom on the bed and Alexa was at the edge of the bed playing with Loki. In a flash she got up behind him to give him “ a hug” and must have hurt him and instead of growling (Since we made the mistake to correct him when he growled) he moved onto dogs second warning which is an air nip but unfortunately her tiny face was there and he got her.
The world stopped spinning and everything happened in slow motion. I heard her scream and I thought she had fallen backwards and hit her head on the bed but when I looked down I saw our second dog pulling Loki off of her and blood everywhere. I panicked for a split second and my emergency medical training and background kicked in and I went into rescue mode. I dialed 911 and called for an ambulance, called my husband to meet us at the emergency room, dialed a friend whose husband worked at the hospital and scooped my baby up and ran out of the house down the street to meet the ambulance.
The rest was a blur. Due to the amount of puncture wounds on her face, her age and the need to really clean the wounds and sew them up well she needed surgery. As I signed the paperwork in between sobs, my husband and I both terrified I handed a piece of my heart over to the surgical team and prayed it would all be ok. After what seamed like an eternity, 2 hours later she was out of surgery.
The next few weeks were a whirlwind, dealing with the trauma of the accident and the heartbreak of losing trust in a pet. My emotions were mixed and high, I loved Loki to death but couldn’t face him and my heart broke. We started talking to people, reading and talking to trainers and realized that we were at fault with much of the accident and that there was no need to put him down but re-home him to someone without children. I’m happy to say that after 5 months we found him a loving home with people who could exercise him and give him what he needed without children or other pets around.
Alexa’s physical wounds healed rather quickly and remarkably and being the amazing child she was showed no ill feelings towards Loki. In fact, she knew she made a mistake and it was an accident and to this day still speaks of him fondly. 2 years later we got another dog and since then made a lot of changes in how we handle dogs and children to prevent another accident. We also had a few run ins with those dreaded tiny critters and as such have tried many dog flea treatment options. Below is some critical information for anyone with a child and a dog of ANY size!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.5 million Americans, 60 percent of them under age 15, are bitten by dogs every year. The most vulnerable group is boys between 5 and 9.
As per the American Humane Association.
Half of all dog attacks involve children less than 12 years old.
Over 80 percent of dog bites that result in emergency room treatment involve children less than 15 years of age.
Of all dog-bite fatalities, 70 percent happen to kids younger than 10.
When compared to adults, unsupervised babies are 370 times more likely to be killed by a dog.
7 steps to keeping your children safe around dogs.
1. Establish Acceptable Behavior
If your children aren’t use to being around a dog, don’t expect that they know how to behave appropriately. Children need to be taught what’s acceptable, and understand the importance of changing their behavior based on the dog they are interacting with.
2. Keep a close eye on toddlers.
According to the National Canine Research Foundation, 88 percent of 2-year-olds that died as a result of a dog attack were unsupervised when the attack occurred.
3. Establish rules and respect.
Before you even get a dog, sitdown with your family and talk about rules and respect around your new dog. Even preschoolers know it’s wrong to hit, kick or be cruel to a dog in other ways. Remind children that it’s never a good idea to bother a dog while he or she is eating, guarding a toy or sleeping.
4. Spay/neuter your dog.
Spay or neutering your pet not only prevents unwanted pregnancy, it almost always calms a dog and reduces aggression- especially in male dogs.
5. Set expectations for your pet.
Just like the rest of your family, your pet should know his boundaries, what’s expected of him, and what will happen when he behaves in an unacceptable manner. Whatever your discipline strategy is, establishing rules from the very first day is essential to keeping your kids safe and nurturing a dog that’s pleasurable to be with. Be consistent with expectations and discipline, and teach your children to help your pup obey the rules too.
Exercising your dog regularly will help him get out excited energy that often results in hyperactivity. And a hyper dog can be a dangerous one, especially for small children who can be knocked down.
The majority of dog-related fatalities and animal bites to children occur as a result of unsupervised or inappropriate interactions. Children should not be trusted around pets—regardless of the species—and pets should not be trusted around children. Adult supervision is crucial to ensuring safety.
It is normal for an animal to become curious about a newborn, as it looks, sounds and smells unusual, and many animals investigate new things with their paws or mouth. Animals do not recognize newborns as members of the family, or even as humans. Dogs and cats are predators, and it is normal for them to react to small creatures that move and sound unusual. Proper supervision and diligence will eliminate dangers in most situations.Always play it safe”:
But my dog is small—he won’t bother the baby.
In October 2000, a 6-week-old baby was killed by her family’s Pomeranian when her caretaker left the room to prepare a bottle.This does not mean that all Pomeranians are dangerous or that the caretaker was negligent — it means a dog is a dog, regardless of size, and the potential for injury exists
I’m happy to say that 3 years have gone by and while the visible and emotional scars are slowly fading away I become more sensitive and vigilant with children and animals and hope to help educate others so that the same doesn’t happen to them.
I believe in Love at first sight- I met my husband on his 18th birthday and the rest is history
I’m passionate about a women’s right to birth without fear or pressure whether that is at home or in a hospital, I’ve done it in both places.
I have two beautiful girls, Alexa and Arya, 5.5 years apart. I believe each of my daughters was sent to me to remind me of a piece of myself I have lost along the way, it has been exciting journey to rekindle those parts of “ME” again.
We live on a little River in Southbury, CT with our Rotti Beagle mix, a Crazy 1 year old German Shephard and a fat cat that won’t leave the basement, he might be to fat to climb the stairs.
I love a good margarita on the rocks with Salt but ONLY if my husband makes it with hand squeezed lemons, limes and homemade simple syrup, any other margarita sucks.
I listen to “pitbull” in the car with my daughters, they have no idea who Raffi is but Alexa knows most of the words to “Calle Ocho”
I’m the girl who will love you fiercely but is not afraid to “tell you like it is”, if I do, it means I actually care about you!
I love my girls but there are many days I don’t like them or want to be around them. Yep, I just said that, its normal for you to feel that too!
I believe that mothers a given a handbook when their baby is born, its called “intuition” and it will never lead her astray.
I am a photographer who helps women “Celebrate the Courageous journey of motherhood”
Latest posts by Maria Fuller (see all)
- The Real Reason Your Baby Wakes at Night - March 16, 2016
- The Magic of Skin to Skin Contact for Newborns - February 16, 2016
- The Baby Nurse Phenomenon - September 23, 2015
So what was wrong in the way you handled Lokis growling, and what do you recommend for others to do when a dog growls at a child? This article offers helpful advice but doesn’t answer that one important question that anyone reading this article should be asking.
Maggie – as she mentions in the post, she taught her dog not to growl, which is the first “warning sign” for a dog before they nip at someone. If she had not trained him not to do that, he would have growled before he nipped.
A HUGE piece of incredibly important information that is missing here is to seek professional help from a qualified professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. There is no shame in seeking help at any stage in your dog’s life and just because you are a dog lover does not mean you are an expert in dog behavior. Seek out an educated, experienced professional to help your kids and dog co-habitate more peacefully together.
http://www.dogsandstorks.com can refer you to trainers who are licensed with this program and use positive reinforcement based training techniques to work with couples who are expecting (or adopting) all the way through preschool aged children.
Colleen Pelar and her books are excellent resources for families with school aged children.
http://www.doggonesafe.com is a non-profit organization specializing in dog bite prevention through education for kids and adults. Trainers and educators can be found on their web site.
Many qualified trainers can also be found through web sites such as the Pet professional Guild, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.