Dog trainer: use commands, watchful eye to keep kids safe

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Dog trainer shares tips to keep kids safe

PHOENIX - The recent death of a child in Mesa due to a bite from the family pet has a lot of people talking about babies and dogs.

Mark Seibel, an in-home dog trainer, says it is rare for something like this to happen, especially if the dog has never shown any problems before.

However, he says there are steps any dog owner can and should take before bringing home a child.

He recommends one certain command.

"Leave it. Once you identify it's safe you can say take it."

It is the trick Siebel uses for parents getting ready to bring a child home to dogs.

"If you think the dog is going to get close to the child, you want to use the 'leave-it' command."

Dog owner Sharon Kosecki decided to leave the idea of getting a dog until her child Alex was seven, and even now there are rules.

"To be careful not to get his face too close, to be careful how he handles them."

Siebel insists it is the parents who have to be most careful.

"It's no different than keeping an eye on the swimming pool," he says.

"You have to watch the child around pets until they are acclimated and you know it's safe."

He adds, "Even then, with certain breeds you have to keep a really close eye on them."

He says chows are one of those breeds...

"The breed chow is the closest thing to a wolf, next to a husky so they're just very primitive dogs," says Siebel.

"They have more teeth than a normal breed dog; they're just not as social as a domesticated dog."

The trainer says it is up to the owner to help domesticate dogs by doing things like exposing them to children's play areas before bringing a baby home.

"If you bring home an infant, if you have a crate or some way to isolate your dog, do that for the first two to three weeks until you know that the pairing is positive and you're not going to have any altercations with your new child."

That goes for new and older children alike.

Chow breeders tell us chows can be very loving pets but they should be trained and socialized.

They add that it is not safe to leave any large dog alone with a child.