Get a dog - would be the short answer, but let's look into the severity of the problem first.
If you are already a happy dog owner and your baby is about to arrive, you might wonder whether your baby is going to be safe around the dog, whether you should keep your pet at all. Many families in this situation are worried about the safety of their baby. The truth is, if you have the time to prepare your dog for the baby's arrival, there should be no problem at all.
The opposite case, if you already have a child and are thinking about getting a dog, is a bit easier, because you have the opportunity to choose a breed that is good with children. There is no one breed that is perfect with children. It mostly depends on the dog's individual temperament, training and early socialization. It is a good idea to browse around classifieds and see whats on offer.
If your child is very young (under 6 years old) it is recommended to get a dog which is more than 2 years old, because they need less attention. However, in this case you must make sure that the dog has been well socialized and obedience trained. While it is a common misbelief that small breeds are better with children, in fact, these dogs are usually more fragile, so kids can easily hurt them, which can lead to the dog being aggressive. Herding or protective breeds are not recommended either, as they might try to herd children due to their natural instinct.
Whatever breed you choose, it is always important not to leave your baby or young child and the dog together without supervision, until they both learn the rules. One thing is certain, having dogs can not be a wrong decision, if the parents are responsible. A dog in the family can also teach your child learn responsibility at a young age and that animals need constant care and attention. Learn more about what breeds are considered good with children.
Dogs are seen as beloved family members worldwide. Yet research shows that young children are at a greater risk from injury resulting from dog bites, than any other age group. Young children are known to treat dogs as playmates and this frequent and close contact can be dangerous at times. Majority of dog bites occur in the home environment while children play with (- cuddling, hitting, kicking, squeezing, massaging, riding, sitting on, tickling, hugging and pulling ears and tails of) their beloved pet dog. Research also shows that young children are not good at understanding the body language of dogs. Children more often than not look at the face of their pet dog and have difficulty in distinguishing between fear and friendliness.
These days there are many dog bite prevention programmes aimed at teaching children how to behave around dogs, and how to understand them better. Prevention starts at home…and the first step is to educate the parents to create a safe environment for cohabitation between children and dogs. It is important to focus first and foremost on teaching not only children but their parents as well on how to recognize and understand those situations which can be potentially dangerous in a household.
If you have young children as well as dogs in your home, it is highly advisable for you to look up organisations which can help you teach your children about their canine playmates. Because this is more complex than one would think, a team of behavioral veterinarians, Pediatricians, child psychologists and teachers form the Netherlands have united to tackle this seemingly innocent, yet very grave problem. There are now organizations in Australia and the UK as well. Look up these organisations in your country and make an effort. After all it is about the development of you child and the safe handling of your dogs as well.
However, it is also important to note that rules are meant to be broken, as children would like to believe and therefore increased knowledge does not necessarily increase behavioral intelligence. Ultimately efficient parental supervision is what is needed as a basis and this –together with correct and ongoing education- can lead to long term results. Good luck! Euro Puppy supports the safe interaction between children and dogs!