Everyone wants their child and dog to be the best of friends. How many of us have countless fond memories of days spent with our first pet? Dogs are wonderful companions for children, but relationships between kids and dogs should be carefully fostered. You need to teach children how to be gentle and respectful of their furry friend.
Teaching children to be kind to dogs
Children may not realize when they are treating their dog roughly. Behaviour like pulling of their fur or ears may cause a dog to react aggressively. Young children should always have adult supervision when they are playing with a dog. You should also help your dog get used to being handled all over their body, so that the dog will be prepared for handling from a child.
Let your dog have space
Dogs can react defensively if startled. Make sure that children know to leave their dog alone when it is eating or sleeping. Doing handling exercises with your dog when she is young can help it to be less possessive of food, so she is more comfortable with interruptions during dinner time. Involve your child in training your dog and handing out treats for good behaviour. A good one to try is Polkadog Bakery Haddock strips, which comes in 10-12" lengths of crunchy, hand-rolled dehydrated Haddock skin, giving some space between a nervous youngster and a dog who is in learning mode.
Help children interact safely with unfamiliar dogs
When children see unfamiliar dogs, they sometimes try to interact with them like their family pet. This can lead to defensive reactions and children getting hurt. You need to show children how to approach a new dog, by asking the owner if it’s okay to pet their dog. If the owner gives permission, children should let the dog approach them and sniff their hand before proceeding with gentle pets.
The Ontario SPCA has an article that provides practical information on how to make sure children and dogs have respectful, rewarding relationships:
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