Dogs & Young Children. How to Integrate Them Together

Dogs are, without a doubt, fantastic additions to people’s lives. They provide companionship, unconditional love, and occasional entertainment! During these unprecedented times, you may have been thinking about getting a dog, or maybe you just got one! One critical aspect of having a pet is to make sure they are appropriately socialized. As much as dogs need to learn how to behave around different kinds of people, young kids need to learn how to behave with their family pets.  This is to ensure everyone’s safety, so you can create a fun and safe environment for your children and dog to grow up in! Take a look at some things you can do to ease the transition.  

Socialize your puppy

Puppies go through a critical period of development in life, which is between approximately eight to sixteen weeks. During this time, it is crucial to expose your dog to different people and sounds and get them comfortable with their surroundings. The advantage of doing this so early on is that it will be easier for your dog to accept various situations as they go through life. The last thing you want is for your dog to be afraid of men, women, older adults or just strangers in general!   At this stage, you should also teach your children to be gentle when interacting with your family pets. This means that doing things like pulling their tails, ears or poking them in the face is not acceptable. The last thing you want is to have your dog become angry at your child, and either snaps or bite at them. 

Start a training program

Having a well-behaved dog is the first step in ensuring the safety of children in your home. Teach your dog basic commands, such as sit, stay, and down, and then it will give you an excellent foundation to teach your dog how to behave around kids. For example, if its first impulse is to jump up to kiss visitors, teaching them to lie down instead will allow you to direct it to more appropriate behaviour.  You may also want to take your dog to training classes to get some guidance from professional trainers. Dog training classes are typically more affordable than one-on-one professional training, and it also allows your dog to learn to behave around other dogs.

Give your dog a space to run to

If a dog is feeling unsafe or fearful, it is important to give them somewhere they can escape to if they want to be left alone. Dogs often do better around children if they have an escape route. Crate train your dog so that it is happy and comfortable in a crate, or make sure they have a comfortable spot in your home that they can call their own.  Make it clear to any children in your home that the crate is off-limits to them. This way, your dog can interact with the children when it wants to, but it also has a safe place to take a break.

Teach your children boundaries

Setting rules for your children about how to behave with your dog is extremely important for their education, not just with your pet, but with other people’s dogs too. A few key points to drive home to your kids include: dogs should be pet gently, do not approach or touch the dog while it is eating or chewing a bone, leave the dog alone when he/she is sleeping. To ensure safe and fun interactions between children and pets, an adult should always be in the room to supervise any and all activity. Children should never be left alone unattended with a dog.  Whether you’re a first-time pet owner, or you’re introducing a new pet into the family household, proper training and socialization can only lead to an enjoyable experience when owning a pet in the long term.  There are tons of resources available to help get your dog started on the right foot! Take advantage of pet sitting services such as doggy daycares, or even hire a dog walker to get your dog to meet some new friends! 



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