Dogs are very like humans in that they all have unique personalities. Some dogs are friendly, happy-go-lucky souls who just want to please their human masters whereas others are a bit on the grumpy side and like to be left alone to snooze in peace. Kids, unfortunately, are not always very good at reading a dog’s body language and therefore problems can arise.
Dogs make great family pets. They are loyal, loving, and endlessly tolerant of children and their antics. However, not all dogs are able to fit into a busy family home, which is why you do need to be careful when introducing a new dog to the household. You also need to be aware of potential problems when bringing home a new baby if you have a dog.
Doggy Training Programmes
Plenty of training will help to prevent problems from becoming an issue when you first give a dog a home. Careful obedience training should reinforce the point that you are the pack leader and therefore the alpha, the idea being that the dog understands his place in the pack and everyone is happy. But for this to be effective, your kids need to behave appropriately around a puppy or dog.
Your Space, My Space
Teach your kids to respect a dog’s own space. If a dog or puppy is sleeping in his bed, kids need to leave him in peace. Small children should not be allowed to pester a dog continually because there may come a point where the dog ‘snaps’ and an accident occurs – this is not fair on the child or the dog so don’t let it happen.
Don’t Feed the Dog!
Don’t let your children feed the dog from the table. A lot of dogs are naturally greedy and if there is any food on offer, they will sit there drooling and begging. Labradors are notoriously greedy and will eat until they burst, but a Labrador is not the only breed of dog that likes its food. Children love to give doggy snacks to their canine buddies, but aside from the issue of overeating, there are several foods that are poisonous to dogs – chocolate being a prime example.
Teach your kids not to give snacks, particularly chocolate, to their pet. If you tell them it will make their friend sick, they might listen. Giving the dog treats as a reward for good behaviour is fine, but handing them out for no good reason will only make him fat and encourage him to pester you for food every five minutes.
Until you can be absolutely 100% confident that your dog knows his place in the family pack, never leave him alone with small children and babies. Dogs of any breed can turn in an instant (although this rarely happens without prior warning) and the consequences can be tragic. There are lots of dog resources online, including My Pawson, so if you need help, ask for it.
If a dog exhibits aggression towards your children – growling or snapping at them – consider re-homing him with a family that doesn’t have small children. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.