Who grew up with a dog in the family? If you did, you’ll know how wonderful it can be to have a best four-legged pal throughout childhood.
For a child and pup friendship to flourish though, your pooch needs to be well-trained. And even more importantly, your human sprogs need to know how to act around the dog!
So for our final instalment of advice this How to Train Your Dog Month, we’ve put together tips for introducing your new dog and children and making sure they become the best of friends.
How can you make sure your dog is good with kids?
In the first few months of owning your puppy, dedicate lots of time to introducing them to people and other dogs. The more they meet, the more used to being handled by and interacting with people other than you they become - including your children.
If socialisation early in life doesn’t occur, it can lead to behavioural problems like aggression. So this is essential for teaching Fido to be a happy member of your family.
Puppy training classes are a great starting place for this: they’ll experience visiting somewhere new, with a group of people and other puppies all in one place!
- Help them learn the basics
You’ll need to know your hound is obedient to feel confident they can play safely with the kids. For instance, a dog who jumps up may have the power to knock over your little ones or make them feel afraid.
Puppy training classes will be a great place to practice, away from distractions at home and with an experienced trainer there to help.
Spotted your dog and the kids playing nicely together? Give your pooch some praise! Reinforce behaviour you’re happy to see with treats and positive attention, and they’ll learn that’s the right way to act.
How can you make sure your children are good with the dog?
Your new pup won’t respond well to being prodded, poked or having their tail pulled. Practice handling exercises with your children to help them know what the right way to handle the dog is, and get the dog used to their company.
Just make sure your puppy is relaxed when you begin and if they start to seem stressed or anxious, you know it’s time for a break.
Following on from that last point, your dog needs their own space, especially when they’re a puppy. Teach the kids that when the dog is taking a nap, lying in their basket, or in their crate they are not to be disturbed.
If they aren’t given alone time, they may become irritable and won’t take well to being pestered by any children.
- Get them involved in training
Dogs can often see children as other puppies to play with. A great way to ensure they’re seen as owners is to get them involved in training, with you overseeing them practice basic commands, or in daily routines such as feeding and walks.
Do your dogs and children get along famously? Tell us about their friendship over on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.