Dogs, Dogs, Dogs!! How Do I Keep My Toddler Safe Around Dogs?

We live in an area populated by university students, young couples and an incredible number of dogs. I have to admit that the owners are very consistent in their use of leashes and it is a VERY rare thing to see a dog off leash. For this I’m thankful. Owners are slightly less consistent in their cleanup and this seems to be getting worse. A year ago you’d almost never see dog doo on a lawn, but yesterday I counted 5 deposits during a 4 block walk. Not good.

While the above is somewhat concerning to me I think we can quickly teach our little guy to avoid dog doo and to leave it alone whenever he encounters it. If, in the event he doesn’t listen or forgets, the implications of this are relatively minor.

What really concerns me is how to teach a baby / toddler / child to behave around the dogs themselves. My inlaws have a medium sized dog that isn’t super familar with children. While she’s generally pretty good with kids, there comes a point when the growling starts and I’m concerned that a snap will soon follow. Of course, or little boy finds the front end of the dog to be the most interesting and starts off at a slow jog directly at those teeth when he sees her. We’ve tried to reinforce with him that a) you shouldn’t run at a dog, but rather approach her only with mom or dad, b) you should only touch a dog gently once mom or dad have said its ok and c) if mom or dad aren’t there, or haven’t said its ok, you should just leave an animal alone.

Any hints? If not I think I’ll be buying some books pretty quickly. Most of the books I’ve found so far focus on introducing kids to a family dog, or introducing a new dog to the existing children. What I’m looking for would address not just those items (I’m sure they’re good for all interactions) but also cover teaching children how to behave around dogs whether they’re familiar or not.

For example:
Living with Kids and Dogs…Without Losing Your Mind
Raising Puppies & Kids Together: A Guide for Parents
Kids and Dogs: A Professional’s Guide to Helping Families
Family Friendly Dog Training: A Six Week Program for You and Your Dog
Happy Kids, Happy Dogs
The Puppy Primer

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