Living in a house with a pup and children can be chaotic. Kids can’t resist messing with dogs, and dogs are always in the mood to play. The earliest age to teach kids how to play with dogs is 2 1/2 years old. At this age, they understand yes, no, and timeout. There are two things you need to get their relationship in control from the beginning.
First, teach your kid how to take care of your pup. It might sound like a lot, but take baby steps. Start by letting your kid put the food or a cup of water in your pups bowl. They don’t have to scoop the food out of the container or get the water, you can do that. Think, they always see you doing these little things, and they would love to be included. Feeding time is the perfect opportunity to train your pup to listen to your kid. Let your kid tell them to sit and stay while they prepare their meal. You can also let your kid play hide and seek with treats. They will simply hide treats around the house. Food and treats are valuable resources. If your kid is included in your pups daily routine when providing these resources, your pup will understand they are more than just play thing.
Second, you need to set ground rules for your kid to follow. Without rules, how can you expect a child to understand how to coexist with a dog. Also, it’s easier to tell your kid no, period. Put a limit on how much fun is allowed. Tug, or chase can easily get out of control. If you let your kid play full throttle, your pup will mirror their energy level. Just like at the playground or dog park, there are rules. The same structure should be enforced in the home.
Get rid of the expectation that your kid and dog can be left alone together. Even if you or know kids that are left alone with dogs, doesn’t mean it wasnt dangerous. Statistically, kids between the ages of 3 – 5 are more likely to be bitten. This usually happens when they are left alone with a dog. Kids are curious and mischievous, and need be chaperoned around reactive animals. A sleeping dog is an irresistible target for pranks to kids. Unfortunately, dogs use their mouth to teach lessons, and their lessons are meant for the thicker skin of other dogs. Nipping will get another dogs attention, but can easily penetrate human skin. These are a few ideas, but there is no rush, so don’t force the relationship to happen, simply help is grow.
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