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Supervision Levels:

This is critical when considering child safety with our pets, particularly dogs. 

Did you know there are levels of supervision? Did you also know that when bites and nips happen to children, there is research showing the dog was warning for months before the incident?

These situations are serious and scary for everyone, including our pets. Dogs are non-confrontational by nature. They bark, growl, and posture because they're trying to prevent the need to bite. They're trying to be heard! But as we learned a few days ago, most dog communication is silent. 

Naturally, most parents do supervise their children. However, bites still happen. There are many factors in keeping our dogs and kids safe with one another, but two big ones are:
#1. Supervision level
#2. Understanding what we're supervising and what to look for (knowing dog body language).

We'll discuss #1 today. I personally consider there to be six levels of supervision. If you're keeping to the top three, everyone should be safe and learning to be relaxed and calm around one another while building solid relationships. 

Let's discuss each:

Engaged Supervision:

This is where you have your eyes 100% on the dogs and kids at all times. They're interacting in and safe and comfortable way. If any discomfort signs show up or the child does things that dogs wouldn't like: stepping on them, grabbing their ears, approaching their toys, approaching from the front, approaching their bed, or climbing on top of them, the parents are there to immediately redirect their child and cue their dogs away and give them a treat. 

Knowing what you're looking at is essential, and some dogs need more set-up. 

If anything draws you away, the doorbell, the pot on the stove, or your electronics, you've moved into the dangerous zone of "Distracted Supervision". 

Management Supervision:

If something distracts you or potentially will, we move ourselves into management supervision. This would be the children and dogs fully separated. It could be the child in a highchair, the child in a safe play space that is physically separated, or the dog into their Zen Den/ Safe Space (that's why we have a day speaking on this topic). 

This is an essential protocol for all children from six and under until safety and training are in place. 

Combined Supervision:

Some children are rougher with dogs than others or are still learning their own frustration tolerance. Other dogs are too excited around children (puppies) or nervous about certain behaviours. With these dogs working, a combination of management and engaged supervision is necessary. 

The dog is in a managed situation behind a physical barrier, so they can only succeed. They either choose to interact calmly and safely with your child, or they can choose to walk away. Both options are ideal. This is known as a "success station". No child can be hurt, and the dog can only be rewarded for the right decisions. 

This is a great halfway supervision level to create a strong bond between our children and dogs. 

There are three other levels, but I don't want to make this day too long. If you have further questions or need more assistance, don't hesitate to contact me. I'm also running an in-person child safety talk at Quinte Canine in Trenton, Ontario, on December 20th @ 6 PM. There are still spaces, and everyone is welcome: Go here for more details.

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