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1 - If you are unsure of the outcome don't chance it.

If I don't what the dog is going to do in any given situation I won't risk getting it wrong. Especially when children are involved.

No matter how well trained or 'good' you genuinely think your dog is, don't risk it. They are dogs. And dogs have their off days too.

They also have their dislikes and sometimes they can just take a dislike to something- even our children. Don't be one of those people that repeat 'be nice' in the hope that the dog will be nice. It's a very poor strategy.

2 - Teach distance, don't encourage interactions.

We're a very grabby and touchy species but we have to remember dogs aren't really like us in that respect. Most dogs I have met don't like being pet. Especially by strangers or unpredictable little screaming humans. Instead of trying to get your dog to interact by tolerating being touched, teach them to keep a healthy distance and to co-exist instead. Especially around really young children. It's much safer for both dogs and children this way.

3 - Don't ever leave them unsupervised.

This should be obvious but it's still a common problem. If you can't reach your child or dog in any situation then for me that means they are unsupervised. If you're driving don't put the dog in the back with a child and ask them not to touch the dog - kids are terrible at following simple instructions. Especially if you ask them not to touch something. Supervising means you can safely interrupt a situation that may go south - it takes less than a second for a dog to react and that can mean the end of its life if we are not careful.

4 - Teach your children to respect dogs, not to pet them.

"Can my child pet your dog" is such a common question we get asked and we nearly always say no. We need to learn to respect dogs as dogs and not feel we have a right to touch them to satisfy a want we have. The dogs I have met have always been most comfortable around me when I have simply left them alone and let them decide if they want to be close to me or not. If we create expectations with our kids that dogs are there to be pet, we're setting them up to eventually get bitten.

5 - Create a fool proof environment.

Living with dogs and children is chaotic and it's hard to be on the ball all the time. Creating an environment that keeps everyone safe and that is easy to follow is a must. Baby gates and exercise areas are crucial in my opinion. Make rules simple - if you open a gate, close it. When it's busy the dog goes in their area with a kong etc

6 - The dog is never at fault.

Whenever things go wrong with children and dogs, it's never the dog's fault but they will always get the biggest and sometimes the ultimate punishment. Remember they are dogs and did not choose to be where they are.

We need to make sure for their sake that they simply can't get things wrong. Trust them 100% to be a dog and all dogs can and will bite if they feel the need to.

7 - If you are expecting a child, prepare the dog months before the baby arrives.

If you are having a baby your life is going to change quite drastically. Your dog's life will change drastically too. Don't just spring the change on them suddenly. Start getting them ready. Start setting the boundaries now so they can adjust before the baby arrives. Create a more sporadic schedule so they get used to things happening when they happen, not when they have expected them to happen.

The amount of people that tell us 'if we haven't walked the dog by 7am they're barking and nagging at me to take them'. Trust me, your tolerance for this when a baby arrives will be almost zero immediately.

8 - A dog is not another one of the children's toys.

Do not teach your child that the dog is just another thing for them to play with when they want to. Consent should be taught from the get go and if the dog says no, the dog says no. Respect that and make sure your child respects that too.

9 - Forget the training and focus on management.

If things are getting stressful don't try and train when you're feeling frustrated. Just focus on creating an easier environment for yourself and simple changes which will help your situation.

Dog training takes a lot of time and energy. If you don't have the time and energy, which is fair enough because you have kids to worry about too, put the training to the side for the time being.

10 - If it's too much for the dog, find a more suitable home.

This is probably a controversial one for a lot of people but I do believe if the environment and dog are not compatible then we need to look at other options, especially if safety is a concern. In this situation I think it is much fairer on the dog to look at finding a more suitable home as opposed to keeping them in a place they can't cope with.Nobody has failed, it simply just didn't work out. We always have to remember that it's about the dog, not us.


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