Dogs can be wonderful, devoted, loving companions to families of all sizes if they are treated with the care, concern and respect they deserve.  Even the friendliest dogs can decide that they’ve had enough maltreatment from children and they want to stand up for themselves.  This means that your loving family dog can suddenly and without warning turn on your children, causing them physical harm.  It also means that your children, who love their dog dearly but don’t really understand boundaries, can play too roughly and cause the dog physical harm.  Fortunately, these potentially disastrous occurrences can be entirely prevented through following some simple safety tips:

1. Never leave your dog and children unattended while they are together.  Are you absolutely positive that your children would never, ever do something unsafe while unsupervised?  How about your dog?  As risky as it may be to leave either unattended for too long, it can be more dangerous to leave them unattended together.

2. Prohibit your children from approaching your dog while he is sleeping. Dogs that are startled awake can be unintentionally aggressive, sometimes with disastrous results.  Your dog should have a safe and comfortable place to sleep, where your children are unable to disturb them.

3. Never let your children hit or shout at your dog. Dogs are living things that should be treated with great kindness and respect.  Your children should never be allowed to hit the dog, throw things at the dog, sit on the dog or shout at the dog.

4. Never let your children hug a dog. When dogs put their arms on each others’ bodies, it is a sign of control and assertiveness. Dogs just don’t like hugs the way humans do.  There are other, safer ways to show a dog affection, including speaking gently to him, petting him and playing with him.

5. Teach your children to never remove anything from your dog’s mouth. A dog may respond to having something removed from their mouth by snapping their jaws to retrieve it, which can result in injury.  If a dog takes something from your children, they should know to ask an adult for help in retrieving it.

6. Do not allow your dog to share your child’s bed. You simply cannot control what your child or dog will do during the night, and unfortunately pet co-sleeping has led to death in some truly unfortunate cases.  Keep both safe by insisting they sleep separate from one another.