Children love dogs and dogs usually love children. When the two can interact safely and happily, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. Dogs can be wonderful friends and protectors for children while children can learn a great deal about how to be gentle, loving, and responsible dog owners. To reach that level and to gain those benefits, however, you’ll need to teach both the animal and the child how to safely interact.
Here are a few tips to make that happen.
Socialize the dog
A well-socialized dog is going to be less nervous and excited around children. You should start taking your dog or puppy to places where children will be present so they can get accustomed to the noise, the fast movements, and the heightened excitement. That can all be a lot for a dog and can cause him to become too excited or too nervous. If he is used to these things, he’ll be more likely to be calm when petted and adored by admiring children.
Teach your children
Children, as mentioned above, love dogs and sometimes they love them so much that they act without thinking. A little hand reaching tentatively to touch a dog’s head could easily get bitten by an unfriendly or poorly socialized dog. Children, for this reason, should always be taught to ask the dog’s owner before petting the animal. That gives the owner a chance to properly prepare the dog for the attention and to refuse if he or she knows the dog is not a big fan of children. Plus, it means your little one won’t be rushing up to dogs and putting themselves in a situation where a startled dog might attack.
Teach the dog good manners
Just as children need to learn to ask before petting a strange dog, dogs should be taught good manners in public. If someone approaches him, the appropriate way to handle the attention is for him to sit or to lie down. This keeps the dog in a more controllable position for you and makes him see very well-behaved. Plus, if you take the time to sit the dog, the children can have time to calm down and the situation can be easier to manage. Also, you must teach your dogs, especially the larger ones, not to jump up on people as a greeting. This can be cute, but it is also very dangerous for children who can easily be knocked over by the weight of the dog.
Help children learn not to hurt animals
Sometimes children don’t understand the proper way to treat animals, including dogs. Kids may grab their tails or try to climb onto of them without thinking about the discomfort this could cause the dog. Small dogs can be injured, placed in toy boxes, or more. For the dog, these are negative experiences that make them dislike being around the child. As a parent, you should stop your children from engaging in these activities at the earliest sign of them. Teach your kids from day one how to treat the dogs appropriately. Also, be a good role model. If you hit your dog to punish him or her, you are sending a very dangerous message to your child.
The bottom line is that both dogs and children need a little bit of training in this area. They need to be socialized so they can get along with one another, and they need to learn the appropriate ways to respond to one another. With a little help, they can have a great relationship that is safe and loving.
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