Dogs are not fluffy toys: Keep an eye on children

I was horrified to see a young child with his face scarred by a dog bite on the front page of the DT 10th January.

It is every parent’s nightmare, but it is also every dog owner’s nightmare.

Our dog has a lovely temperament but he is very nervous around children – the legacy of an incident as a pup in a pub garden when an unsupervised toddler fussed and pursued him to the point of harassment, despite our pleas for her to stop as he was getting stressed.

Working with him to build his trust of children now is a work in progress.

I would like to make a few pleas to all parents:

Please try to keep an eye on young children in public areas. They don’t see the risks that you will.

Never leave a young child alone with any dog – even the family pet.

Do talk with your children about how to behave around dogs. Calm, well-mannered behaviour never goes amiss. Boisterous, noisy behaviour and sudden movements may over excite or stress a dog. A frightened dog will defend itself if it perceives a threat, especially if it feels trapped (enclosed space or on a lead).

Do not approach any dog without asking the owner’s permission first. If permission is given, wait for the dog to come to you. Speak calmly and stroke the dog gently from the side. Avoid patting the head. Never allow a young child to cradle a dog around its head and neck.

Do not allow a child to run towards a dog. The dog may see it as a threat.

Never take a dog by surprise. The old saying ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ is wise.

Our dogs are wonderful companions. We should respect them and teach them well. Please ask your children to respect them too. They really aren’t fluffy toys to be messed with.

K. Field