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An expert's warning: 'Parents should think twice about posing toddlers with the family dog.'

Images of babies and dogs appear daily on our Facebook feeds and have everyone cooing and sharing them. Dogs and babies just go together.

Even before our daughter was born, I couldn’t wait to introduce her to the four-legged members of the family. And, like a lot of families, I trusted my dogs implicitly. Despite this trust, I understood they were still animals and never left them alone with my baby or my now toddler.

However, canine behaviour specialist and former air force police dog handler, Grant Teeboon, said social media and the obsession with memes of dogs with babies is a recipe for disaster.

“Canine behaviour experts are concerned because many of these clips and pictures show dogs that are clearly stressed and bordering on aggressively reactive towards the child. Parents are playing Russian Roulette with their newborns,” he said.

“Parents need to be warned that the trusted family dog can bite a child in a fraction of a second and the consequences of such a bite can be life-changing.”

 

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Teeboon said people all too often over humanise dogs and forget they are an animal and that it doesn’t take much for them to revert to their undomesticated nature.

“We judge the dog more as a human than a dog and this is putting babies at risk. We don’t do the dog any favours by treating it like a human,” Teeboon said.

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“With the increase in positive-only dog training, it increases the number of people who will be bitten. Without using punishment or correction it takes away our ability to clearly identify unacceptable behaviour to dogs.”

He said dogs show submission by lowering their bodies down to the ground and then by rolling onto their backs and showing their stomachs.

By putting babies on the ground beside a dog on their back with their throat and groin facing upwards it puts the baby in a submissive posture in the mind of the dog.

Teeboon said it was vital parents took the time to recognise the behaviour of dogs, never leave a baby or toddler unsupervised with a dog and always make sure the child is one physical level above the dog.

He said the warning signs to look for in a dog are tight jowls, bared teeth, ears back and moon eyes, where the dogs head is not pointing where it’s looking so you can see a lot of the whites of its eyes.

“Dogs communicate with body language and this must be read in clusters,” he said.

“Children’s movements can be unpredictable, and it doesn’t take much for a dog to snap. For the sake of 30 seconds of fame online they are putting their child in danger.”

For more information, visit www.thepawman.com.au

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