It may seem a strange observation but dogs are, in most cases, a lot more predictable than young children. When a dog has grown up from a puppy in a home where it has been well trained, it will know how to interact with young children, especially if they have grown up together. If an older dog is introduced to the home then things may be a little different to start with, but there’s no reason that careful work with both dog and children won’t pay dividends in the future.
Keeping children and dogs safe
Whether a dog has been with a household for some time or is making its first entrance, it’s essential to be aware of some ground rules to keep everyone safe. Children naturally love dogs, but one should remember dogs also have their personal space and it’s better to let the dog decide if it wants to interact, rather than the child.
Dogs love to be stroked but head patting and hugging is not really what they like. Children should be encouraged to pet them under the chin or gently stroke the side of the head. Remember, these are general rules and some dogs, especially when they know a child well, may be fine with other tactile experiences. Nothing, though, should ever be taken for granted.
Taking away a dog’s toys, sticks or food is not on. The child may think it’s fun to tease the pet but baiting it is not only a poor example to set, it also opens the door for an unpleasant canine reaction in future. Children, as well as dogs, need to be trained!
Dogs that have been exercised and are tired are often pleasantly docile; this is a good time for them to interact with kids. When a dog is excited or wound up it’s hard to predict what it might do, so always put safety first. Some dogs can be over-friendly, so if a child is uncomfortable in a dog’s presence, the pet should be kept on a leash until both child and dog become more used to each other.
Good training is the lynchpin of successfully introducing a dog into a household with young children. Parents should always keep an eye out on the interaction between their little ones and their pet, and also be aware that as children grow up they may develop a different relationship with a dog, in that they may not have the time to give it as much attention as it used to get.
Looking after a dog
Young children love to get involved and be encouraged to be responsible for pets. In the same way as they adore cooking when they are given the opportunity to make delicious things in the kitchen, they will willingly take on the responsibility for caring for their dog.
As children are filled with boundless energy, they can be very helpful when it comes to exercising their pet, not just on long walks but throwing sticks to be fetched in the garden. Grooming, especially for long-haired dogs, is an essential part of caring for the animal, and doing this on a regular basis is something that children – and the dog – will really enjoy.
It’s important for children to be aware of when a dog may be sickening for something. How to detect signs of stress and anxiety can be taught to the child, and healthcare to eradicate pests such as fleas and ticks can be dealt with by a Bob Martin flea treatment to ensure the pet is kept in tip-top condition.
Good dog breeds for young children
There are many breeds that are good with young children, though one should remember that crossbreeds can also be very affectionate, especially if they are being rehomed and are then trained well to be part of the family.
Golden retrievers and Labradors are popular choices for breeds that are good with kids. They are affectionate, intelligent dogs, as well as being patient, a plus when they are in contact with children. Retrievers have long, glossy coats that need regular grooming, ideal for involving a child, and though Labrador’s coats are shorter, they still need to be groomed.
There are various breeds of collie that make very good family pets, both short-haired and long-haired, and children can get used to grooming them and feeding them as part of their dog-caring responsibilities.
When bringing a dog into a home with young children, care and thought is required so children and dogs are safe and the right environment is created for everyone to be comfortable.