As an Atlanta dog trainer I’m always concerned when I see stories about dog bites. Recently I saw in the news that a newly adopted Bulldog severely bit a four year old child. The child was trying to stop the dog from going outside. Why any parent would put their four year old child in this situation is beyond comprehension. This just happens to be a bulldog but this can and does happen with any breed. There are a few things to consider here.
Family with Puppy
1. Rescuing a dog is a wonderful thing, but it may not always be the best option to bring an unknown dog into a home with young children
2. If you do decide to adopt a dog and there are children there should be a lot of restrictions on how the dog and children interact. The dog and child should never be left alone. When they are interacting the child needs to be taught from the start that this is not a new toy, but a living animal that can react violently when approached in unfamiliar ways. Many dogs don’t like to hugged, kissed and ridden like a pony.
3. You can’t always trust what the previous owner said about why they gave up the dog. There are people who withhold information about previous aggression because they know it may make the dog unadoptable.
4. You need to take time to get to know your new dog. Watch for signs that he is stressed around children or anything else. It is far easier to add more freedom than it is to take things away after there has been a problem.
I’m not suggesting that families stop adopting adult dogs. The majority of people who adopt a dog and are committed to the dog have wonderful long term relationships with their pet without any type of aggression. If you do rescue a dog make sure first of all that you are dealing with an established legitimate shelter or rescue group. When you bring your new dog home keep him close to you or kenneled until you know his behavior. Be careful of any interaction with children, other dogs, cats and people. Start dog training from the start. If you need any assistance please contact us. Remember dog training and child safety go together. Train your dog to respect our child and train your child to respect your dog.
If you have a dog that has bitten or you feel has aggressive tendencies get help as soon as possible from a qualified trainer. The worst thing you can do is to place the dog in another home or shelter without disclosing any issues. A history of biting or aggressive behavior could mean criminal charges for you if you withhold the information.