Young Children and Dogs!

The majority of children love dogs. Most parents obtain a dog for their child. The  desire is that the dog spends time and loves the children.

It’s not impossible for dogs to love children. The challenge is many young children are unable to determine the difference from a living dog and an inanimate object.

First rule is; Never leave a young child unattended around your dog. This is for the safety of the child and the dog. Children like to; poke, hug, drag, pick up, and physically manipulate dogs as they would a stuffed toy.

Most young children are unable to understand that hitting, dragging or shoving a dog will cause them pain and worse will create an emotional state in a dog that causes them to feel threatened. If a dog feels threatened he will either retreat to get away to a safe place or bite to defend themselves. Children do not understand this natural behavior in dogs and are often unable to read these signals.

Toys and things!

Dogs do not generalize very well. So if you have toys that you specifically have for your dog which are different from the toys you have separate for your child. The dog will not be able to determine the difference. Children should be instructed to leave the dogs toys alone so as to not confuse the dog.

Its usually helpful to keep children’s toys in a separate area so the dog is unable to gain access and ensure the dogs toys are easily accessible. This will help your child understand the importance of keeping their toys away from the dog. Additional this will teach the dog which toys are acceptable for him to play with.

As children get older with the help of parents, guardians and mentors they will learn simple skills of appropriate interaction with dogs. They should be taught how to play, what toys and treats to use, what tone of voice to use and how to read body language which will help them understand how the dog is feeling thus in turn help them learn what their behavior should be. Children should be taught that a dogs mind works entirely different from that of a human being. For example. If your pet destroys a treasured item or plays roughly enough to hurt your child, your three-year-old might think your pet did it on purpose and feel justified in punishing him. So this is important to help them understand this is not the case.

Children and dogs can live a happy coexistence as long as we are there to set boundaries and keep every one safe. If you need help with interaction between your child and your dog, please contact: Janet Oquendo CPDT-KA, 410-299-1013.

Janet Oquendo CPDT-KA, Pawz for Health

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