Children aren't exactly dog friendly. The small ones are sometimes a bit awkward when they walk, a little rough with pets and don't understand that your pup needs her downtime. On the flipside, dogs can bowl your kid over, intimidate him and even latch onto his arm. But with a bit of teaching and preparation, the two wild things can become best of friends.
Teach your pup the fine art of basic obedience. Although getting her to rollover, shake and bark on command might get you some "cool" points from your child, focus on getting your canine to sit, lie down, stay and come. Not only will this make her more confident and easier to handle in stressful situations, it makes everything safer for your child.
Introduce them properly. Bring your dog in on a leash, and hand your kid a treat. Have control of your pup, but don't tense up on the leash. You don’t want to send her a message that your child is a threat. Tell your kid to stand there as relaxed as he can, and to keep the treat in his hand. Your pup will probably check the little dude out by sniffing him all over, so prepare your child for that. After the nose prodding and sniffing have stopped, have your child tell the inquisitive canine to sit. The moment she plops her butt on the ground, instruct your kid to toss her the tasty treat. If your child isn't old enough to stand or talk, have him sit on the couch, or on the floor if you have a puppy or small dog, and give your pup treats yourself.
Explain to your child how he should behave around the furball. Although you can do this before introducing the two, demonstrating visually often works out best. Show your child how gentle he should be, especially around the ears and face, and that pulling, poking and hitting are absolute no-nos. Tell him to avoid sticking his fingers around your pup's mouth -- there's no reason to incite a bout of aggression. Make sure your kid knows that he shouldn't pester your dog when she is sleeping, eating or drinking, that chasing her isn't allowed, there will be absolutely no teasing and that he shouldn't feed her anything but treats and he needs your approval first before giving her those tasty doggy snacks.
Be in control of their interactions, at least at first. If you have a small child, like baby-small, keep an eye on the two at all times. If you have an older child, make sure there are no problems for the first few weeks. If your pup shows her teeth, growls, points her ears back, appears jumpy, lowers her tail or keeps it stiff when your child is around or snaps at him, have a chat with a qualified trainer. The aforementioned signs indicate your pup is nervous or fearful when your child is present, and fear aggression is a big problem that immediately needs addressed.
Make wonderful things happen when your child and dog are together. One reason dogs appears jealous and aggressive toward another person in a house is that the person in question doesn't provide for the dog. So your dog thinks nothing good happens when that person is around. If your kid is feeding your pup, giving her water and the two are playing games together, you'll see a much healthier relationship develop. To have your child score a few extra brownie points, have him say obedience commands and reward your pup with treats when she responds positively.
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- Tell your child to only say basic obedience commands if you give the OK, and always supervise the situation. Tell him to only give your pup a treat if she listens. If your child can't grasp that concept yet, avoid the situation altogether.
- When introducing the two, do not allow your pup to jump on your child or aggressively pursue the treat in his hand.
- Don't let your child walk your dog. Too many things can go wrong on a walk, and you need to be in control at all times.
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