Keeping your toddler safe around dogs

As a parent or carer it’s important you put steps in place to ensure your child and your dog can live happily together. Making sure your young child knows how to behave around your dog and others will help to keep them safe.

In the house

  • Encouraging gentle interaction from your child is important; no pulling, grabbing, hurting or sitting on your dog
  • Ensure that your toddler doesn’t attempt to snatch your dog’s toys. If the dog takes an item belonging to the toddler encourage him to exchange it for another toy or treat.
  • Avoid your child wandering around with food or allowing your dog to beg at meal times
  • Keep rules consistent, even for visitors

Out and about

  • Never allow your child to approach a strange dog.
  • Remember, not every dog is like your dog at home.
  • Supervise your toddler during doggy play time, as there is a higher risk of them being knocked over
  • Keep your toddler safe in their pushchair by teaching your dog to walk calmly on a lead next to you, never tie the lead to the pram
  • Avoid busy dog parks that may excite your dog or put your toddler at risk

Doggy do's and don'ts

Remember every dog is an individual. Knowing what your dog likes and dislikes will help keep them a happy and healthy member of your family.

Do:

  • give your dog quiet time. An indoor kennel or baby gate is a valuable tool.
  • avoid ‘rough play’ with your dog as this may encourage unwanted behaviour, and teach them to play appropriately with toys
  • reward good behaviour and calm interactions
  • remember your dog has needs too – attention, walking and playing are key to their happiness
  • learn about your dog’s body language so that you can understand when he’s feeling relaxed and happy or tense and uncomfortable

Don't:

  • leave your dog alone with your child
  • force a dog and toddler relationship, this will grow naturally over time
  • leave any doggy dangers lying around - nappies, small toys and certain foods can be hazardous

Why not book an educational talk?

Keeping your child safe around dogs
A free talk to parents and carers with young children

There are many benefits to having a dog in the family, ranging from increasing children’s self-esteem to teaching them about responsibility and respect for others. It is important that children understand how to behave around dogs so that they can enjoy their company and remain safe.

Why should you book a talk?

Of the people who get bitten, 80 per cent are bitten by dogs that they regularly meet. The majority of those bitten are children under the age of 10.

The talk aims to help you better understand:

  • The benefits of bringing children up with dogs
  • Dog welfare
  • Seeing things from the dog’s point of view
  • What boundaries are important and why
  • Understanding your dog’s body language
  • Tips on keeping both child and dog happy and safe

To arrange your free talk please email [email protected] or call our Education team on 0300 111 8950 or visit our book a talk page.

— Page last updated 23/09/2016