In an ideal situation, you are likely to end up with kids that have a way with dogs, and a dog that loves kids. Unfortunately, situations are rarely ideal, which is why, as a dog owner you will need to manage interactions between your dog and your kids. It may sound like a lot of work, but with the right kind of mind-frame, you will be able to effectively teach your child, and train your dog to be cordial with one another.
Your steps have to be deliberate. This is because children and dogs alike are purely instinctive. Kids tend to tug and pull at anything within reach, and dogs have a tendency to become defensive once they feel threatened. This is where you come in. Dogs tend to be naturally apprehensive, your role as a dog owner is to ensure that the relationship between your dog and children it meets is safe and controlled. Here are a few tips to help you ensure both sides play nice courtesy of pupped.com.
Control the Environment
It may not be such a great idea to let your dog run wild and free around the house, especially if you have a child. The dog may have a natural affinity for kids, but the vigour it runs around with may topple the child over and cause injury. You need to control the environment, train your dog to be gentle around your child, and teach your child not to pull or tug at your dog’s tail, so it doesn’t accidentally lash out. Managing the interactions between your child and dog is the simplest and most effective way to ensure both sides develop a sense of mutual respect.
This part is crucial, so pay close attention. You cannot control the world around you any more than you can control the weather. That said, it is important to give your dog varied experiences to ensure it gets as much exposure to different stimuli as possible. This is why, as a dog owner, you are requested to naturalize your dog to different types of child behaviour. New places, people, sounds, even lights. The more your dog associates child interactions with a positive consequence, the more comfortable it will be around them.
Children can be a little overzealous at times, and a dog that hasn’t been desensitized may snap at the first sign of provocative behaviour. This is why dog training is crucial.
Teach Your Kids!
As impulsive as untrained dogs can be, you have to understand that dogs are still instinctive creatures, and even the best trained can at some point blow a lid. Kids are adorable, but they can be little monkeys if left unchecked. This is why as much as you concentrate on desensitizing your dog, you should also teach your kids to respect your dog and not provoke it unnecessarily. Various training techniques like clicker training or “be a tree” are a great place to start, this teaches kids to identify when the dog is uncomfortable with the interaction, and stop immediately.
Body Language Awareness
Dogs give out cues when they are uncomfortable, or when they are not particularly enjoying the interaction. The half white moon eyes, the shake-off, trying to leave, all these are indications that your dog isn’t enjoying the interaction. Teach your kids how to identify these cues, as well as other indications that the dog has had enough. Dogs don’t inherently want attention, and sometimes it is crucial to know when to leave them be.
As a dog owner, you have the responsibility of ensuring your dog is trained efficiently on how to interact with all the children it meets, not just your own.