It is estimated that 45% of households in the UK have pets, with dogs and then cats the most common animals.

When you’ve got little ones there can be many benefits to having pets. It can be a great way to help children develop kindness, understanding and respect for living things. It can be a great source of comfort and companionship and if you have a pet such as a dog it can encourage children and families to be more active and spend more time outdoors.

While it can be great fun having a pet and they are often great friends it is really important to help your child develop their understanding of animal behaviour so that your pets and your children can live safely together.

A quarter of the UK population have a dog and on average, each week in East Sussex one child under 16 years of age attends A&E due to a dog bite.

There are a number of things dog owners can do to keep dogs and children safe together:

  • Never leave your child in the same room as a dog, even your own
  • Teach your child to never approach a dog while it is eating, has a toy that they really like, are sleeping, are unwell, injured or are blind or deaf
  • Don’t let your child do anything to a dog that they wouldn’t do to another child, this includes climbing on and pulling their ears
  • Teach your child to play nicely with your dog. They can learn how to do some really cool tricks together, like teaching how to shake paws and roll over
  • Supervise your dog while it is with your child, if the dog at any time seems anxious or unhappy then let him/her go somewhere they feel safe and happy
  • Teach your child never to approach a dog they don’t know
  • Make sure your dog has a safe place to go and that your child knows not to disturb them when they are there