The Dog Days of Summer

Continuing our examination of issues you might confront during the summer months from last week, we turn our attention to dogs.

You are spending more time outside with your charges during summertime. So are dog owners and their pets. The challenge is to protect your charges from dangerous or unruly dogs while teaching the children respect and love for animals but not fear of them.

Most localities have laws that require owners not to allow dogs to run or roam without a proper leash. Some communities have dog parks or areas designated where dogs may be without a leash. Such areas are not on the streets of your community. When you hear an owner yelling for his roaming dog to “Come”, you must be aware that the owner is not in control of the dog and you must be alert to protect your charges. Similarly, when an owner has a 12-foot leash and the dog can jump on the kids, you must be ready to protect the children. Every owner seems to think that their dog is friendly and lovable The owner does not appreciate that they are also incompetent; that is, unable to control their own pet.

Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer” advises people to be calm and assertive and to claim the space as their own when faced with an unruly dog .The goal is to create a calm and balanced animal. Cesar also says that when confronted by dogs, people should disregard the animal, avoid eye contact and avoid talking to the dog. Cesar trains the dogs, and their owners, to behave appropriately. Your charges need to be taught specific rules to ensure their interactions with dogs are pleasant.

The key to the following rules is to prevent situations that are likely to cause an unknown dog to bite or to injure your charges:

  • Do not tease or provoke any dog, whether chained, in a fenced area or running free.
  • Do not poke or pull on a dog.
  • Do not pet or approach a dog unless given permission by the owner.
  • Do not try to assist an injured dog without help from an adult.
  • Do not approach a dog that is eating, that is with puppies or chewing on a bone.
  • Do not pull a toy away from a dog.
  • Do not awaken a sleeping dog.
  • Do not approach old, sickly or blind dogs.
  • Do not feed dogs directly from your hand.

Some breeds have reputations, such as friendly, playful, or violent. These reputations, whether accurate or not, cannot be applied to all individuals of a species. That chocolate Labrador may not be friendly and child-loving. And even if he is, he might jump and hurt or scratch your charge. That Pit Bull may be calm and balanced and unlikely to hurt anyone. You cannot assume anything. You must be cautious and thoughtful to prevent injury to your charges and to yourself.

If you or your charges are injured, you should contact the police and seek medical attention. Any bites or scratches from any pets require medical attention. Remember, this is both a legal and medical matter.Your immediate concern is the health of the child. Get her to a doctor immediately.

Dogs are called man’s best friend. With you help, your charges can enjoy dogs for a lifetime.

Does the family you work for have a dog? Do you mind working with a family with a dog? Have you ever had an incident with your charges and a strange dog?


  1. When the family I worked for got a puppy I quit. The parents worked full time and I worked 60 hr week. I am a childcare provider and they wanted me to train the puppy and did not offer me more money to do that. Never had any problems with dogs hurting my charges although one of my charges is really afraid of dogs.Rhoda, Newark NJ

  2. Other kids make fun of my charge because she is afraid of dogs. It is annoying when we go to friend's houses and she is scared. But after reading this article I see it is ok for kids to be a little scared. We ought to teach kids not to run away when scared of a dog because a dog will chase the child thinking they are playing.

  3. One of my charges was overly afraid of dogs. When she was toddler a big dog knocked her over.Unfortunatly her mom made a huge deal about it- and it tramatized the child. The child was 7 and still afraid to be near dogs. Whenever she saw one she would freeze and cry take me home!We had to avoid places where dogs might be- she never wanted to have a playdate with any friends who had dogs.Her mom finally realized her fear of dogs was overtaking her everyday life and she got counceling- which helped a lot!

  4. I was never found of being a nanny for any families who had dogs. But lately with the economy being so poor I can't be as picky with jobs any longer.The dogs do add to my responsiblities and if a family does have one I ask for a little more to compensate. If a family requires the nanny to walk the dog and pick up after it- I know they are not the right family for me.Thankfully, many have dog walkers.If they do not- they expect the children to pick up after the dog-which sometimes can be unpleasant, because the family wants the nanny to be in charge of making sure the child cleans up.Many families want to make the children happy and get them a dog-but they fail to realize it's a 1-15 year commitment and usually after a month or two the novelty of having a pet quickly wears off! and then it's usually the main adult that ends up having to care for the dog too.

  5. Wow, I guess it's a good thing one of the kids I care for is scared of dogs. I always thought it was annoying. But this article brings up good points. Thanx, Michelle, Wetport CT

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