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We realize that our pets are family too, so we've included a resource for families with pets. We also highly recomend adopting pets from your animal shelter, and if you don't know where your shelter is located, we've added links for pet rescue directories.

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Exerpts from an article by Norma Bennett Woolf

Children should be taught how to behave around dogs, even if their own family does not own a dog. For example, a child should never approach a strange dog without asking the owner if it's OK to pat the dog. If the child sees a loose dog on the street, he should not approach it even if he knows the dog belongs to his friend. He should tell someone that he saw the dog, but should make no attempt to pat or grab it.

Nor should he scream or run away, for these actions can result in an attack by the dog. A running being frequently says "prey" to the dog and triggers the chase response in his brain. Once triggered, this response is almost impossible to interrupt. The dog is reacting to chemical stimulus, not rational thought, and is extremely difficult to sidetrack.

Most dogs, even those that are well-trained, do not consider children as figures of authority. Furthermore, since children frequently stare intently at animals, a dog may feel threatened by this short person who is trying to catch him. Even the best-natured dog may bite to protect himself in these circumstances, especially if he feels cornered.

Once a child is given permission to approach a dog, she should present her closed fist for the dog to sniff. This protects the fingers in case the dog is frightened and tries to nip.

Children should never hug a dog that is not their own, and should only hug their own dog very gently if the dog can tolerate the hug. Children should be taught to never hit dogs with their hands or an object, to lower their voices when playing with the dog, to leave the dog alone when he's sleeping, eating, or ill, and to never tease a dog in any fashion. Many dog bites occur because the child teases the pet beyond endurance.

Dog owners share the responsibility for bite prevention as well. They should socialize their puppies to small children at an early age. (It helps to buy from a breeder who has started this socialization prior to the puppy purchase, for the younger the puppy is exposed to gentle children, the more tolerant of children it will become.)

Socialization can be as simple as walking the dog near a playground where children are making noise, running about, playing ball or Frisbee or soccer or walking through the neighborhood while the kids wait for the school bus. The dog can be told to walk at heel through a crowd of children, to sit-stay and watch the play or allow the children to pet his head, to down-stay until the end of the game. Constant exposure of this type will accustom the dog to the presence and antics of children.

The sight of a child and a dog napping together on the sofa or the floor, playing in the yard, or contemplating the sunset is a wondrous thing. The potential relationship between a child and the dog who considers himself the family guardian is precious, and it needs to be nurtured and guided. Families can accomplish this by teaching the dog and the child to respect and cherish each other.

Key Points to Remember:

1. Never let a child climb or play wreasel on a dog. A dog could feel trapped and bite in order to get free.

2. Never let a child around your dog's food bowl. A dog could feel threatened that it's food will be taken away and bite to protect it.

3. Supervise young children playing with your pets at all times in case of over exuberate play that may hurt either the child or the pet.

4. Allow easy access to a "safe place" that your pet can get to away from your child. The child should not be able to bother the dog when he is in this place.


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