Dogs and children can have a lot in common. They share boundless energy, they require constant attention to thrive, and they can bring you endless joy. Despite their similarities, pooches and kids can run into problems if not introduced properly. We’ve discussed how to introduce your dog to a new pet, and to new people, but dogs and children require their own process. By applying these lessons, your furbaby and your real baby will be the best of friends in no time!
Know the limits of both dogs and children
If you were caring for two toddlers, and one of them had a hacksaw attached to their hand, would you leave them alone in a room together? Well, when a dog and a small child meet for the first time, you’re facing the same risks.
Unless your child has been raised around pets, they won’t know how to behave towards your new dog. They may treat them like a teddy bear to be hugged, poked, and jostled without restraint. Your child also won’t be accustomed to reading the warning signs of a threatened dog. This can create a perfect storm of an irate pooch and an oblivious kid – which will end badly for both.
Keep a watchful eye (and ear) on both of them
Whilst they’re getting to know each other, you’ll need to play the role of supervisor, mediator, and translator. If your dog starts growling or stiffens their posture, separate the two of them. Take a firm calm but tone with your dog (No, back”), and explain to your child that they were in danger. Your child will learn to respond to your furry friend’s needs, and your dog will see that you will intervene on their behalf if they’re being annoyed – which will deter them from violence.
Turn your child into a mini canine expert
With the danger averted, you can now teach your child about your dog. Start by teaching them to approach your pooch with your hand outstretched. When the dog sniffs their hand, your child will begin to see that it’s a dog’s version of a handshake. Next, lay out some golden rules, like “don’t pull their tail”, “don’t yell in their ears”, and “don’t shine anything in their eyes”.
Now you can progress to the fun part: letting your child befriend your dog. Showing them how to rub your dog’s belly, brush their coat, and play fetch with them is a great start. In fact, there’s a range of activities the two of them can pursue together.
At this stage, your pooch and your child can start to be buddies in earnest. They may still need your guidance at times, but once they understand each other, you won’t be able to keep them apart!