What’s cuter than a little kid and a dog playing together? It doesn’t always happen overnight. It can take training and practice to make this dream happen. It’s also not just on your dog to behave, your kids may need preparation as well.
Socialize, socialize, socialize
If you’ve looked at this site or past blogs, then you’ve seen our emphasis on dog socialization. It is an essential building block for a well-behaved and happy dog. It’s not just about socializing with other dogs either. Your dog needs new experiences and to explore. All of this helps them prepare for new and unpredictable things. It’s your responsibility to help them do this safely.
Obedience training for your dog
Making sure your dog can understand phrases like sit, stay, drop it, or come can be a big help when the time comes to meet new people. It’s a good practice to start training vocabulary like this as early as possible. Once they’re more comfortable and old enough, it can also be smart to include your kids in the dog’s training. This helps them bond and teaches your kids how to handle the dog.
Train your children, too!
The level of preparation required will change depending on the age of your children. No matter what, your kids will need to know certain ground rules of how to behave around the dog. Some early basic rules include:
- Dogs are not stuffed animals, they need to be treated gently.
- Don’t approach the dog when they’re eating.
- Leave a sleeping dog alone.
- The dog’s crate is off-limits.
You can adjust these rules as your children and dogs become closer and more well-acquainted.
Don’t force a dog to interact with a child
You’ve likely seen some people hold a dog so a kid can interact with them. If the dog is already nervous or scared, holding them in place while an unknown child approaches can make it worse. Think about if someone tried to hold you still while meeting strangers, it would make you feel uncomfortable too.
Practice handling exercises with your dog
Even the most well-behaved child may get too excited and grab at the dog’s tail or try to hug the dog around the neck. Get your dog ready for this kind of interaction by doing it yourself. Gently touch their tail, hold a paw, hug them, or mess with an ear. Give them praise when you do this and reward their good behavior. This will help your dog become less stressed when a child does the same things.
Use positive reinforcement, not scolding
If your dog gets scared, or even barks at your child, you should redirect their attention and energy. Scolding them can create a negative association between your dog and children. Reward your dog for positive interactions and praise them for good behavior. This will help them start behaving well around children.
Want to read more about dog life?
- Fun ways to exercise your dog
- Benefits of structured dog walking
- How to prevent bad dog breath
- Your dog won’t pee in the rain?
H2H Canine Orphanage
Home 2 Home is a non-profit canine orphanage revolutionizing the way dogs find their perfect homes. We consider ourselves an orphanage versus a traditional shelter because we provide needs-based care. We also have licensed trainers on staff, veterinary care, flowing water, and always-available beds. Their better life starts when we get them, but their best life is after they’re adopted to their forever home. Learn more about us and our story.