Good Relationships Between Children And Dogs Don't Just Happen.
So many families bring a dog into the home for their kids because it's a wonderful experience - it can be. It can also be a bad experience for both parties.
Good relationships between children and dogs don't just happen. They develop over time. Each participant needs to learn what to do and what not to do.
Parental guidance is essential at all stages from new puppy onward. Responsibilities assigned to your child/children change over time.
A 9 week old puppy has different needs and skills than a 6 month or 1 year old dog. A 2 year old child has different skills than a 4, 8 or 12 year old child.
When bringing in a new puppy or adopting an older dog, think of what the dog needs on a daily basis and assign age appropriate responsibilities to your children.
Do you expect your child to be responsible for walking the dog? That requires an understanding of puppy behaviour when he’s on a leash and to be willing to pick up poop!
Walking a new puppy or adolescent dog is very different than walking a dog who has matured and learned not to pull. Does your child have the skill set to know what to do if he meets another person with a dog? What if your puppy starts barking, pulling, biting at pant legs? Which is 100% to be expected.
Most people, adults, and children, tend to over handle pups. Contrary to what most believe, dogs do not like to be picked up all the time nor touched constantly. It’s essential to instruct your child on how to interact safely and respectfully. Consent to be picked up or patted is rule #1 to follow. Just because it makes us feel good to pat the dog over and over, does not make it okay to do. I like to promote the rule of 3. Touch no more than 3 times and stop. What does your dog do? Get mouthy? Or snuggle up beside you content?
The irony is the less you pat him and randomly pick up your pup, the more he will seek you out.
These are only some of the questions you need to consider. Yes, you may have gotten a dog for the kids but parental guidance and responsibility play a big part until the puppy has learned some skills and developed some self control.
Lucky for parents, there some wonderful resources for families with dogs. Visit my Resources page for links to some great sites devoted to children, dogs, and families.