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As a parent who raised six children and owned house dogs I have been blessed by all the fond memories of watching my children and dogs play together. Kids and dogs go together like fish and water, but keeping dogs and kids happy when together does have challenges. If conflict between the two arises it is your responsibility as parent and dog owner to see to your children’s protection, and the dog’s socialization training, so these problems do not elevate into dangerous situations.
Keeping dogs and kids happy when together
Making this happen begins with teaching your older kids a dog is not just another toy they may want to take their frustrations out on when angry. So many times this happens and a dog’s natural response often results in a bite to the offender. Now the dog is labeled as “dangerous” when in fact they are not. When you have infants and dogs living in the same home never leave the baby alone with the dog. Just as puppies chew anything they can get a hold of so do babies and toddlers. Your toddler deciding to the dog’s tail, ears, or paws look like great chew toys is likely to result in a nip from the dog.
Sit down with your older kids and explain a few rules they need to abide by where the dog is concerned. These would include never approaching the dog when he or she is eating, avoid making eye contact with unfamiliar dogs as this can be construed by the dog as a challenge, do not run up on sleeping dogs, never scream at the dog not kick, slap, pull their ears, tail or fur, and do not play rough with the dog or race up to the dog in an excited manner as this often causes a dog to react by jumping up on the child.
A good acronym that will help your kids remember is “DOG SAFE”. This is explained in an article on the KidsHealth.org website:
One dog expert has come up with an easy way for kids to remember seven tips to prevent dog bites. It spells “DOG SAFE.”
D: Don’t Tease, Please
O: Only Pet With Permission
G: Give Space
S: Slow Down
A: Always Get Help
F: Fingers Together
E: Even Good Dogs Can Bite
Keeping dogs and kids happy when together also includes allowing your child to have fun with your dog but only when you are there to supervise the play. Children seven years old and under are not to be left unattended with the dog as they have not really matured to a level where they will understand much of what you will be teaching them about how to treat your dog.
As parents keeping dogs & kids happy when together means you do not show favoritism towards your dog over the children. This is an absolute no-no, and on the other side of this coin do not treat the dog like an outcast by giving all you love and attention to your kids while ignoring your dog. Include everyone and things will go smoothly.
What are you experiences with kids and dogs? Comments are encouraged below.