Children and dogs can become the best of buddies, but things can also go very wrong. Of course, you want to protect your child and puppy from that but what should you pay attention to? If you want your dog to get along well with children as an adult, it is important to ensure that it has good experiences with children as a puppy. So, for example, if unfamiliar children are afraid of your puppy, it is better not to let them pet it rather than to force your puppy to calm down. Always consider what is best for the child and for your puppy.
You can explain a lot to older children and they will probably get along well with the dog with the right instructions but you should always keep an eye on small children.
Petting other dogs
It is recommended that you teach your children to always ask other dog owners if they can pet their dog. Since your children are used to your dog, they might have a false belief that every dog is cuddly. Explain to them that not every dog likes it when strangers try to pet it.
The correct way of petting a dog is also something that deserves attention. Many children have a tendency to pet the head and hang over the dog. However, this can come across as very threatening to the dog, which is precisely not the child’s intention. It is best to pet the dog on its sides and the bottom of its neck. Also teach your children the correct direction of stroking the dog’s hair, as it may not be obvious to them.
As the child and the dog build a better bond, the dog is less likely to see the child as a threat and it will be less scared if the child makes a mistake. But keep an eye on it yourself, if the dog shrinks back from the pat, it probably does not like that way of interaction.
Rules for children interacting with dogs
There are a few rules that everyone, including children, must take into account when interacting with a dog. You should never disturb a dog while it is eating, drinking or sleeping. Dogs who are startled awake can sometimes react very strangely. If your puppy goes to his basket or crate, he should be left alone, no matter how difficult that may be. Resting is very important for puppies, and quite honestly they don't do it enough on their own. Playing together is fine, but pay attention to what the children teach your puppy. For example, from a child's point of view, it can be hilarious for your pup to snatch their trouser legs when they run together. With every game, consider whether it is also fun when the dog is an adult and reacts that way to strangers. Safer games include letting the child hide things that the puppy has to find or teaching your puppy tricks.
Prevent bad behavior
Some small children can be very nasty towards the dog, sometimes even hitting and kicking it. When children are very small, they may not yet be aware that they are hurting the dog. However, you don't want your puppy to get a bad association with them, or with kids in general. It also applies to your child that negative attention is also attention. Instead of telling them what's not allowed, it's better to give them a nice alternative. For example, many children find it very exciting to give your puppy a biscuit. You can give them a task too, for example, rewarding the puppy every time it sits. This way a part of your training is immediately taken off your hands.
What if my child is afraid of dogs?
Some children are afraid of dogs. Of course, your puppy will not immediately notice when a child is scared, but you can teach the child a trick to prevent dogs from finding them interesting. Movement and high-pitched voices often provoke playful behavior from the dog, so if you want to be uninteresting, stop moving and say nothing. Have the child cross the arms in front of the chest and stand with the legs slightly apart. This way the child is stable, should an over-enthusiastic dog jump, and the child won’t forget to keep his or her arms still