Dogs and Kids

Double trouble, I hear hear parents cry? Joking apart, having a dog as part of the family can help give children a valuable sense of responsibility early on in life, not to mention a best pal they will never forget. Reinforcing this notion are popular images such as Lassie saving Timmy, but the reality is more often reports of kids being injured by family pets, and dogs being given away when babies arrive as owners find they have little time for both kids and dogs. This is a shame because kids and dogs can be a great match when handled correctly. But when not, they can be the worst. Here are some golden tips to ensure your kids and dogs get along safely.

Train your Dog

With any new dog, correct obedience training and socialisation from the outset are a must. After all, this will pretty much dictate how it will behave for the rest of its time with your family, so getting this right early on is vitally important. If kids aren't a part of your family when you first get the dog, and even if you don't plan on having them, try to ensure your dogs gets the chance to be around them from time to time, safely of course. This is important because, believe it or not, dogs can find kids threatening because they are nearer to their eye level, tend to move quickly or erratically, are more vocal and often forget to be gentle. The more accepting your dog is of kids in general the better. A final point worth mentioning is to not allow your dog to jump up at anyone, visitors, children - anyone.

Train your Kids!

Teaching your children how to behave around a dog is half of the battle for forging a lasting and stable relationship. Kids should learn how to behave around the family pet, and to understand that a dog should never be teased. Tail and ear pulling are a firm no-no, as are hitting and cornering a dog for any reason. It is even worth showing them how and where a dog likes to be petted. Also, they should realise that it is not a good idea to ever disturb a dog whilst it is sleeping or eating. While any family dog should learn to tolerate being touched and having toys or food taken from them, most dogs have a limit and all dogs have the occasional bad day, just like us, especially if feeling ill. What may be tolerable on most days may simply not be on one really off day, and so it's not always correct to assume that a dog bite is the fault of the dog. Another important message to drill into your kids is never to go anywhere near any dog without permission from the owner, even if they are familiar with the dog. This may sound a little over the top but a dog can act very differently running freely than on the lead under an owner's control. In any case, children should always be supervised whenever possible when they are around dogs.

Preparing Dogs for New Arrivals

New Arrivals & Dogs

Like many things in life, correct preparation can prevent a lot of heartache. It is a terrible scenario for a dog to be banished, ignored or abandoned to a shelter when a child is born. If you have a dog and are expecting a child, then socialising your pooch around kids in general is a must. Try to introduce any changes gradually but your dog should learn to tolerate being approached and touched, and to give up its toys or food without any aggression. Set up your nursery early and let your dog grow accustomed to the new smells of baby paraphenalia. On the day you are due to bring baby home for the first time, try to make sure your dog gets a good, long walk in order to calm any over-enthusiasm generated by the new arrival. And when baby is home, try not to exclude your dog too much. Of course your time and energy will be drained to say the least, but allow your dog to be around you and your likely visitors like it normally would be while you tend to baby, safely of course. Ensure that it always knows it is last in the pecking order, the bottom dog, but don't forget your pet. There will be times your dog may wish for some quiet time, so make sure it has somewhere to retreat to such as a comfortable bed in a nice corner. And above all, no matter how well trained and socialised your dog is, never leave them unattended around kids of any age.