By Sylvia Dickens
Dog play often involves children. If you’ve ever seen that interaction, you will recognize what you are about to read. If you haven’t, then take note. This information can protect your child and your dog. When dogs play, they become obsessed, and children can get over-excited. This can be a deadly combination. Most, if not all, children are oblivious to what dogs games can have on their pet. All they think about is having fun with the dog. This usually involves some sort of toy. Outdoors, it’s often a ball. When dogs become obsessed, all they can think of is getting that ball. Some will become possessive over that toy, while others will be happy to bring it back to you so that the games can go on. Now, let’s take this outside – into the heat and humidity of a summer day. Children will romp around in all kinds of weather. When they become hot, they don’t seem to notice and will continue running around. Dogs are the same, except that they do have a bit of foresight and will seek a cool place to rest when the heat becomes too much for them. Because children are not consciously aware of the heat, they will continue trying to play with the dog even after it decides to take a break. They do not understand why the dog has stopped playing. And they do not understand the importance of the dog’s actions. This is when things can turn ugly. When a dog is overheated, it can become easily agitated. If it is not allowed to recover from the heat, it will not be very pleased to be forced from its resting place. If a child persists in doing so, he or she can get bitten. There is another way this can turn ugly. Dogs play in all kinds of weather, too, but they know when they need a break. An overheated dog, playing on a hot, humid summer day is at risk of a seizure from heat stroke. This is not unlike what happens to humans who allow themselves to become overheated by exercising on a hot day. Neither of these scenarios need to happen. They can easily be prevented by a little training. Children must learn the dangers that a hot, tired and aggravated dog can present. Teach children to recognize the signs. 1) When a dog is hot and/or tired, he will isolate himself from the play. 2) When a dog is overheated, his tongue will hang all the way out of its mouth as he tries to cool himself 3) The blood vessels in his face will swell as the blood pumps through his system and he becomes hot. 4) Often, an overheated dog’s eyes will grow larger than normal. Teach them what to do. 1) Allow the dog to rest in a cool location that he chooses. 2) Make sure the dog has some fresh, cold water to drink during play. 3) Do not pester the dog or try to get him to play while he is in this state. Explain to them what can happen if they ignore these rules. 1) The dog can bite them if he feels that he is being pestered. 2) Even friendly dogs can bite if the situation is right. 3) If dogs become overheated, they can have heat stroke, which can mean seizures. 4) The dog could die if he is not given cold water and allowed to cool down. If you have a dog, a dog and children, or just children, make sure that children understand that this is how to act around a dog. Children will not realize that while a dog is playing, he is also exercising his hunting instincts. When all is said and done, remember this. For the dog, it’s not all dogs play. Dogs can bring us great joy. In fact, dog owners love talking about dogs. You can read such stories at Dog Talk Weekly. It’s a free ezine that provides tips on dog care, dog training and more. Discover how much fun we’re having. For a fun look at dogs drop by our Dog Talk Blog.