LIVING IN HARMONY (Dogs & Children) - Entry #4 - When Play Gets Carried Away

July 30, 2011

Dogs and children are often great playmates, but children may become upset if they're the recipient of an accidental nip.

"Puppies and young dogs that get too rough while playing are normal," says Pam Reid, Ph.D, vice president of animal behavior at New York's ASPCA Animal Behavior Center. "They just don't yet realize that they're too rambunctious in their play with people. Once they learn that people are more fragile than other dogs, they temper their play."

Your child can help enforce limits by reacting with a sharp "No!" when the dog gets too jumpy or mouthy, and by turning his back until the dog settles. It's also helpful if your child understands the difference between a playful pup and an aggressive dog.

"A dog who's playing will be relaxed and loose in his movements: his tail will be relaxed & wagging, his face will look like he's having fun," Reid says.

An aggressive dog's demeanor will be rigid and tense. "He'll probably freeze before nipping. His tail might be wagging, but it will be firm and stiff. His growl will sound more serious."

Teach children that if they ever feel uncomfortable, they should slowly walk away from the dog, avoiding eye contact. "Avoid screaming, running, or flailing arms," Reid says.

* The above information written by Debbie Swanson & taken from DogFancy Magazine - May, 2011 issue.

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