B 4 U Get a Pet: Tips for healthy dog-child relationship
It’s so important to build a healthy dog-child relationship in your family to ensure safe and happy households! Here are some tips from B 4 U Get A Pet‘s website resource, Introducing Dogs to Children:
Teach your child(ren) to be calm, gentle, and kind around dogs:
It can be exciting being around a dog, but children need to learn the right way to approach and behave with them.
- An adult needs to always be present when a child is interacting with a dog. No matter how well they know the dog, children under the age of 10 shouldn’t be left alone with a dog.
- Without a parent nearby, children could act in a way that puts them at risk of dog aggression (e.g., pull fur, tails or ears, step on the dog’s feet, hug, squeeze, or kiss the dog).
- A handy tip is to get pets gradually used to being handled all over their body (e.g., their paws, face, ears, back, and tail).. This way, they will be more prepared to tolerate rough handling from a child. It can also help make veterinarian appointments go smoother.
- For example: if a dog doesn’t like its paws being touched, the owner can start by gently petting the dog’s legs. You can stop at any sign of anxiety, while giving the dog treats. Over many times of doing this, the owner can move closer and closer to the feet. If the anxiety seems to be significantly lessened, the owner can try to hold the dog’s paw. Use treats to distract and reward the dog for being calm.
Teach your child(ren) to leave the dog alone when they are eating, sleeping, or quietly playing/chewing on a toy.
Just like humans, dogs can get scared if woken up suddenly! This can cause the dog to behave defensively, without realizing who it is targeting.
- Some dogs may display resource guarding when approached when the dog is near or has something it values (e.g., food bowl, chew toy, item that is new). This behaviour can include barking, growling, lunging, snapping, and/or biting.
- To avoid a negative reaction, children should be taught to leave dogs in these situations alone.
- Resource guarding can be prevented with handling exercises while the pet is still young. For example: teaching a puppy to drop objects while playing fetch can train the puppy to be less possessive.
Teach your child(ren) that every pet is different and not all pets will behave like their family pet.
- Children are often bitten by dogs because they try to interact with an unfamiliar animal like they would their family pet.
- Teach your children to ask an owner if it’s ok to pet their dog. If they’re given the O.K. , allow the dog to come to them and sniff the back of their hand. The child can then gently pet the animal on its sides in the direction of its fur. This is also important when bringing a new pet into the home.
- Explain to your child(ren) that being calm around a dog will help them to become friends with the new pet.
Speaking for the ones who can’t speak for themselves
Keep up the good work speaking for the ones who can’t speak for themselves. A society who cares for their animals is a better society. Thanks for your good work!