Dogs and babies can be a great combination if your dog has learned how to behave around children. Some dogs love children and seem to naturally know how to behave around them. These dogs still need training and socialization. It’s important that they know their boundaries.
Not all dogs get along well with children. In fact, some dogs are afraid of children. Many of these dogs can be trained to behave around children from a safe distance, but some will never be able to interact safely with them. If you have children living in or visiting your home, it is vital to make sure they are always safe with your dog.
Socialize your puppy
Puppies go through a critical development period between 8 and 16 weeks. They are more likely to learn to accept and feel comfortable with a variety of people and situations if presented to them during this time. If you have a new puppy, introduce them to the children in a positive way.
Make sure It meets several children of various ages in a variety of situations. Children should be well behaved to dogs and gentle. If your dog has good experiences with children, It will associate them with good feelings.
If you have an adult dog, you can still socialize with children. The process should go slower and more gently. Make sure you offer plenty of treats and precious praise. Remove your dog from the situation at the first sign of stress.
Start an obedience program
Having a well-behaved dog is the first step in ensuring the safety of children in the home. Teach your dog basic commands, such as sitting and getting off, and you will be able to teach It how to behave around children. For example, if Its first impulse is to jump up to kiss visitors, teaching It to lie down instead will allow you to direct It into more appropriate behaviors.
You may want to take your dog to training classes to get assistance from professional trainers. Dog training lessons are more affordable than individual professional training and allow the dog to learn how to behave around other dogs.
Practice handling exercises
Even the most polite child sometimes can’t stop himself from throwing his arms around a dog’s neck or pulling the dog’s tail. Prepare your dog for this kind of attention before It runs into a child. Praise It and maybe even give it treats as you gently pull Its tail, hold Its paws, hug your dog and look at Its ears. If your dog displays fear or anxiety in this delicate goad, then it may be best to keep children at a distance.
Don’t allow your dog to jump
You may not worry about your dog jumping on you to greet you, but not all home visitors will feel the same way. It can be dangerous when your visitor is a child who can be injured if your dog drops it.
It is best not to allow your dog to jump. If your dog jumps when you walk through the door, you can ask It to sit instead. If that doesn’t work, try walking out the door when It jumps. Give It a lot of attention and praise for keeping all four paws on the floor when you walk in the door. The dog will soon learn that it is much more rewarding not to jump on people.
Introducing dogs to children’s toys
Think of all the things baby toys can do. Dolls and stuffed animals often make high-pitched, funny noises. The bikes whiz by. The balls are thrown or kicked across the yard. All of these things can make it very tempting for your dog to steal, chew, or chase toys. While this can lead to the destruction of toys, it can also lead to children being nipped or knocked over.
Sensitive dogs may be afraid of some children’s toys and they might associate that fear with children as well.
Introduce your dog to baby toys without the kids around. This is when you command how to leave it and stay useful. Use these commands to stop your dog from stealing or chasing toys. Make sure you redirect your dog to appropriate dog toys. If your dog is the nervous type, reward It with treats when your dog is around toys.
Act like a child
Children behave differently from adults. They run, scream and move erratically. Try to introduce your dog to some of these behaviors. Teach your dog to stay, and slowly try to get It to stay in one spot as you run around your yard or yell in a high-pitched, baby-like voice.
You can also get your dog used to children’s behavior by taking It to a park or playground. Keep your distance at the beginning and slowly approach the playing children. If your dog seems worried at any point, take a few steps back and start over. Keep things fun and use lots of praise and treats.
Don’t force a dog to accept children
Some people think that keeping a dog for a child to pet is a good way to introduce dogs and babies. Not true! If a dog is afraid of children, holding It while It approaches and petting It can be a terrifying experience.
A fearful dog may become aggressive and growl, bark, or bite in an attempt to escape the object of Its fears – in this case, children. Instead, give your dog plenty of time to get comfortable with the kids and give It a chance to get close to Its condition.
The best way to build a good relationship between a dog and children is to use positive reinforcement. When your dog is good around children, be sure to give It lots of praise, treats, and attention. Your dog will learn that good things happen to It whenever children are around. It will soon be happily looking for children and will keep Its best behavior.
Give the rules to the children
Dogs aren’t the only ones who need training. Also, children should be given rules on how to behave around the dog. Make sure any child who enters the home knows the following:
- The dog is an animal, treat it gently.
- Attention should not be forced on the dog.
- The dog’s belly is prohibited.
- Do not go near the dog while eating or chewing on a bone.
- Leave the dog alone while It sleeps.
- Make sure an adult is present when the dog is in the room.
- children should never, ever be left unattended with a dog!