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Winter is here and all over school officials are making children's dreams come true by canceling school due to weather. I remember the anticipation of the announcement that my school was closed. It is even better if it turns into two days! Wow, what a break! By the third day however, stress and boredom sets in. The excitement of fresh snow or ice has diminished and the effects of unstructured days are being felt by the entire family. Parents are missing work or having to arrange child care. Siblings begin to crave new playmates and the bickering is in full swing. The noise level and activity in the home is beginning to take its toll on everyone two legged as well as those members with four legs! Yes, snow days affect our furry friends too.
Last week our schools were out for almost the entire week. As a canine behavior consultant however my phone was very busy. Clearly having everyone cooped up in the home during these times is also stressful for our canine family members. I received many calls about incidents related to children and their dogs clashing. Dogs that normally would spend a lot of time outside are brought in the home due to cold temperatures. Kids are bored and have loads of energy to release inside instead of outside. This combination can lead to an increased risk of a dog bite. There are things you can do to help keep the peace during these trying times. Here are just a few.
Create a "dog zone" and "kid zone" so that each has their own space apart from one another.
Dogs and children must be supervised!
When the kids are playing and noisy, secure your dog in a calmer setting with a safe toy such as a kong or similar toy. Screaming children and giggling children can get dogs very wound up and excited. This can lead to unintended injury. Dogs must be supervised at all times while around children.
Set up an organized game with your dog and kids. Hide and seek is a great one.
Practice basic obedience with your dog for short periods several times a day to keep them out of trouble and to stimulate their mind. Bored dogs will find their own entertainment. J
Our dogs really add so much to our lives. It is because they are so adaptable that we adore them. It is important for us to remember that they are animals and although they live with us they still have their natural dog behaviors and instincts that we must always respect and take into consideration. Dogs do best when shown what we want them to do. Set everyone up for success by planning ahead and preventing unsafe situations.
***" There is scientific evidence that more bites happen when people are home and schedules disrupted. In Australia a group of researchers charted dog bite hospital admissions on a daily basis for a year. The peak incidence was the Christmas break - with New Year's day being the highest day of the year. Chapman and Morell. 2000. British Medical Journal. Vol 321, pg1561-1563." Quoted by Joan Orr creator of Doggone Crazy! www.doggonecrazy.ca and also see www.doggonesafe.comFor more information please visit www.familypaws.com or email [email protected] . Jennifer Shryock is a canine behavior consultant that specializes in safe Kid & K9 interaction. Jennifer has a duo degree in Special Education/Elem Ed from Kutztown University and is currently enrolled in Cynology College where she will obtain a diploma as a Canine Behavior Theorist.
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