If you have a dog, or dogs, and children you know how important it is to teach them the proper ways to deal with each other. You will need to teach your child how to correctly and gently pet the dog, and to not pull on or hit the dog. You will need to teach your dog how to deal with your children and the things that they can do. You need to teach both child and dog what is acceptable behavior.
Babies and children tend to pull on the dog’s extremities, such as ears and tails, and hit the dog. Do teach your dog to accept your baby’s gentle touch on all areas of her body. On the same note, teach your child that every dog has sensitive areas that he or she should not touch.
Teach your baby not to use his or her hands, toys or bottles to hit or swing at the dog. This can hurt the dog or make the dog defensive of the baby, increasing the chances of your dog nipping at or biting your baby. Also, do not allow your child to kick, kick at or step on the dog. This can lead to a dog that becomes fearful of feet, and could start biting at them when she sees a foot coming near her.
Teach Your Child the Proper Way to Treat Your Dog
Teach your child not to yell at the dog, but talk in a quiet, easy voice. Dogs can become very frightened when a little, unpredictable “thing” is around them. Teach your dog to relax and be calm when, and if, the baby or child does scream in her face.
Do not allow your child to chase the dog, as again, your dog can become scared of the child and become wary of being around him or her. Some dogs will not flee, but instead turn around and defend themselves, which could be as severe as biting.
Be very careful about your baby climbing on, or jumping on, your dog. Many dogs do not like this – would you? It is unfair to expect your dog to accept this behavior from your dog. If it does happen, keep your dog calm and take your child off the dog. Praise your dog if she behaved appropriately.
Teach Your Dog to Respect Your Child
Your dog needs to respect your child, as he respects you (hopefully!). Having your child interact with your dog in different situations will allow this to happen.
Have your child work basic obedience with your dog
This will help your dog to learn to listen and respect your child. Even if your child speaks baby gibberish, you can teach your dog to understand.
Reinforce the commands by saying them as you have your child give the same command. Surprisingly, your dog will soon be able to understand the baby talk! When my children started speaking, I had them give my dogs commands daily. At first my dogs looked at me as though I had three heads because they did not understand what my babies were trying to tell them. As I reinforced the commands, my dogs learned the baby talk and soon were listening to my children! My children thought it was great, and the dogs learned to respect and listen to them. To this day I still have my kids practice obedience with my dogs so that neither my dogs or kids lose those skills.
Teach your Child how to give treats to your dog
Teach your baby how to give treats to your dog the right way, and in turn teach your dog the proper way to take treats from your child. Make sure that you are always present when doing this. Hold the hand of your child that has the treat in it to ensure the safe and gentle taking of the treat by your dog. Make sure that your child has the treat in his or her open hand and make the dog lick the treat off the hand versus using teeth to take the treat. Now is the time to bring the “gentle” command into play. As with everything that your dog does well, praise him when he does take the treat gently, so that he will continue to do so in the future because he knows what is expected.
Dogs and Children Need to Learn to Play Together and Become Friends
Teaching your dog and child to play together is another important piece of the puzzle. Most children delight in playing with a dog, and dogs inherently love to play! Fetch is probably the easiest game to have the two play together, especially if your dog already fetches. Even if the ball, or toy, only goes a foot, your dog will happily retrieve and bring it back. This makes the child happy too! If you teach your child how to work basic commands into the game it becomes easier for your dog to accept direction from your child. Do not allow your child to play tug with your dog as children are generally not strong enough to control the game and could very easily get hurt. Fetch, hide and seek, and “find it” games (where you hide treats and have the dog search for them – with help at first) are great games for children to play with dogs.
Your Child Should Have Responsibilities Relating to Your Dog
Allowing your children to share the responsibilities of caring for the dog creates respect in both parties. The dog learns to care for and appreciate the children for taking care of him. The children learn responsibility and all that goes into having a pet. Taking walks with you and your dog (even allowing the child to hold onto part of the leash – with you really controlling the leash), feeding, and playing with the dog are duties your children can take part in and can enjoy very much. My children fight over who gets to hold the leashes on walks, who gets to throw the ball during fetch, and who gets to feed the dogs. They are learning to take turns with all of the activities, and to care for the dogs, so it is a win-win situation in my household!
The Dreaded Doggie Dish
You can teach your dog to accept your child near her food bowl by having your child give high value treats in her empty dish. Make sure that you are supervising and right in between the dog and child to avoid any potential problems. This does not mean, however, that you should allow your children too close while your dog is eating. It can be very stressful for your dog to have to worry about the child stealing her food! She could become protective over her bowl and possibly bite or nip if the child gets too close. After awhile, your dog should come to accept your child around while she is eating if you follow the above steps, but I cannot stress enough how potentially dangerous this situation can be!
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
It is very important to let your dog eat and sleep in peace, away from the child. Teach your child not to torment or get too close to the dog when she is eating or sleeping.
The old saying, “let sleeping dogs lie” is very important, and oh so true! A sleeping dog that is startled awake could accidentally bite or jump on a child. Teach your child to leave your dog alone when she is sleeping so that your dog is allowed peace and quiet, and your child remains unharmed. Dogs need down-time just like people do. You can also give your dog a favorite chew toy or special bone to chew somewhere out of reach of the child. This will ensure that the dog does not have to stress that the child will take it and bite or nip at the child.
Be kind to your dog!
A Final Word…
Always remember that no matter how well-behaved your dog is, he or she is still a dog. Dogs are animals and can be unpredictable at times. They have teeth and can bite, but hopefully they never will. They can jump and scratch, whether it is on purpose or not. Please do not leave your baby or child alone with your dog – EVER! Things can unexpectedly happen that could cause injury and heartache, so please always be careful and mindful when it comes to your dog and child. It is always best to err on the side of caution!
Our lives can be enriched by our dogs beyond belief, just as they can be with raising children. It is a challenging task to have babies and dogs, but it is well worth it. If you follow this article, you should have a smooth transition and life will be wonderful. If you choose to ignore the advice I have given, I cannot say what will happen in your house. You may never have any problems, but chances are, sooner or later, something will crop up.
Good luck, and I hope that your life can be as rich and fulfilling as mine has been and continues to be!
Mandy Makein is an author and dog trainer. For free dog training report visit [http://www.stopdogjump.com/]
(c) Copyright Mandy Makein 2010. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.