dog days

This Pediatrician Warns Parents To Never Trust Their Dog Around Young Children

Yes, even *your* dog.

Originally Published: 
A pediatrician explains why dogs and young children should never be left together — not even your tr...
@thepedipals / TikTok

Many parents were dog parents before they had real-life, human kids. Dogs and cats are the first babies! We put them on our holiday cards. We took them to dog-friendly patios and stores. They were the center of our worlds — until baby came along. Even though pets may get the shaft for a bit once a newborn enters the home, we still love them!

And while we all might love our dogs, we should not trust them, especially with kids, according to many pediatricians.

Pediatrician Dr. Sami, one half of the popular doctor TikTok account, The Pedi Pals, warns parents that the curated videos of babies and dogs we all see on social media are just a fantasy. The real-life version of a baby/kid dynamic can be much more dangerous.

“If you have pets in the house and you have kids, I know that you love your pets and that you trust your pets, but never trust your pet,” she warned.

In her home, when her kids were young, the dogs did not go near the children and vice versa until the kids were old enough to understand how to interact with the dogs, noting that she taught her kids how to approach dogs, how to tell them to sit and stay, etc.

“We're still always very careful about telling them never to get in the dog's faces and then taught them about when dogs are like receptive to being loved on and cared for and when they were tired and when they were feeling threatened and aggressive,” she noted.

She admits that her dogs have never shown aggression a day in their life, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t. For this reason, when they have company over (especially children), Sami closes off the dogs in another area of the house.

“Again, my dogs have never in the history of our lives thankfully never ever shown any aggressive tendencies, but I did not want the first time for it to be around someone else's child. So I've always partitioned our dogs in other areas when we have our friends' kids over,” she said.

“I'm just saying you can never be too careful around dogs no matter how much you love them, no matter how gentle they've been.”

She goes on to mention all those videos fed to us on social media, showing dogs crawling in bed with babies or a young child pulling on a cat’s tail, is not how animals usually behave. These videos are the exception to the rule. Just because a dog is gentle once, twice, or 25 times, does not mean that he won’t bite on the 26th time.

“Anytime I see these like videos on TikTok of people that have like their baby sleeping with their husky, I'm like, ‘Dear God, this animal can't talk, okay?’ Like you just don't know what's going on in their brain and they might be okay with everything 99.9% of the time, but then the one time they're not, their instinct is to bite and their instinct is to go for the face. They rarely ever bite extremities. It's always the face,” she noted.

“And if I had a nickel for every single one of my patients that has been bitten by a dog and required stitches, I'd be rich. It's way, way, way too common in the pediatric world. Just be careful.”

Several people commented on Dr. Sami’s video, with some doctors weighing in on her take.

“THIS. So much this. Most of the dog attacks we see in the pediatric ER are from the family dog that they thought would ‘never do that.’ 🥺,” a fellow doctor wrote.

“Yes! This is so important. People always wonder why I’m so cautious with my sweet dog, it’s because she’s still a DOG and toddlers are crazy!!!” another user added.

One user wrote, “My dog will be 10 this year and seniors can get cranky. I have definitely been teaching my kids that she needs her own space.”

“I have the laziest, sweetest, and loving Newfoundland and I STILL don’t allow mine to be with him unsupervised,” another user admitted.

Some other users weren’t so keen on Dr. Sami’s thoughts on dogs and kids, writing, “I trust my pet more than kids. I'm not gonna lock up my pets cause of kids. My pets are just as important. It is also NEVER okay to ask someone to put their pets away. Don't go over,” they wrote.

Dr. Sami replied, “If you don't trust your kids, then even more reason to exercise caution. Also, I didn't say put them away. I said partition. You get one part of the house and they get another. I love my pets too but your approach is exactly the type that results in unwanted consequences.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ official stance is that dogs and young children should never be left in the same room together unsupervised.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States with over 800,000 seeking medical attention for dog bites, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

At least half of those bitten are children.

The AVMA recommends parents teach their children about dog bite prevention and how to be safe around dogs by keeping things simple with these helpful guidelines.

“Discuss animals, how we relate to them, and the role of animals in your family, not just how to avoid being bitten. If you have younger children, always supervise them around dogs and be mindful of how the child interacts with the dog so they learn to be gentle from the beginning,” the website reads.

Children need to receive dog education at a level they can understand. Parents cannot expect young children to be able to accurately read a dog’s body language. Parents need to encourage children to exhibit gentle behavior with dogs and that dogs have likes and dislikes just like them. This will help them develop a better understanding of dog behavior as they grow older.

  • As a parent, report stray dogs or dogs that frequently get loose in your neighborhood.
  • Keep dogs away from infants and young children unless there is direct and constant supervision.
  • Teach children that the dog has to want to play with them and when the dog leaves, he leaves -- he’ll return for more play if he feels like it. This is a simple way to allow kids to be able to tell when a dog wants to play and when he doesn’t.
  • Don’t give kids too much responsibility for pets too early - they just may not be ready. Always supervise and check on pet care responsibilities given to children to ensure they are carried out
  • Remember: if you get your kids a pet, you’re getting yourself a pet, too.

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