There has been a lot of buzz lately about keeping kids safe around dogs. You can find lots of wonderful info on training and managing your dog if you have kids. Here is one of my personal favorites http://blog.smartanimaltraining.com/2013/07/02/6-ways-to-prepare-your-dog-to-meet-the-new-baby/ . I hope we all agree, it is vital to prepare and train your dog to be with kids, even if you don’t have kids it is important that your dog sees kids as a positive thing and isn’t afraid. But if you do have children then there is another important aspect of this relationship…the child.
Yes. The child.
As a parent you will expect to teach your child to ride a bike, to read, do math and someday, drive a car . But many really lovely people don’t think to teach the real skills needed to be with dogs or any animal. I guess people think it is something we are just born with, I don’t actually believe that, I believe some kids are just natural with animals, but many are not. In either case, it is, in my opinion, a matter of values. In my life, compassion, respect and care of all living things is among the traits that make a “good” person. I know this sound like a really big job.
But honestly, this one is easy. You love your child…you love your dog. Of course you want them to have a safe and happy relationship. So here it is.
Its not rocket science.
Even before my son could walk he learned how to pet a dog. I simply held his hand as we pet the dog and said my “pet nice”. So I showed him exactly what I meant by that. Then as he got on his feet, when he was near the dog, instead of waiting for something bad to happen, I simply reminded him to pet nice and watched carefully . Did I have to occasionally stop a rough touch or ATTEMPTED ear pull? Of course, but I was never too far away to intervene AND eventually, respecting the dog became the way WE do things.
As a baby, my son was never alone with the dog or on the floor near the dogs, the dogs had their own safe space, on the other side of the gate.
As my son got even more mobile the next set of rules were added.
- The dog is NEVER bothered when he is eating or sleeping, in my book, allowing that is like letting your child play in traffic.
- Second, learn the rules of play and then you get the privilege of playing with the dog
- Bring only good things to the dog, never take anything away
- The corollary to this is children do not scold dogs. Period. Call Mommy if there is a problem.
- You do not chase the dog and the dog does not chase you.
- You NEVER take anything away from the dog again that is a mommy job (I am repeating this for a reason).
These rules are in place until 7 or 8, it does depend on the child, really until the child is able to follow direction well, at this point my son learned how to teach tricks, play fetch and yes give and get affection.
What I learned, I will admit purely accidentally, is that by teaching your child to respect animals, you will teach respect …period . I am convinced the education of my polite respectful teen (yes I have one) began when he was 9 months old and I taught him to “pet nice”. This, of course, was followed up by lots of other lessons, but that is where it began. Like so many life lessons, it starts before your child is 3 and lasts forever.
Ha. … No pressure!!!!
So I hope this inspires you to get more proactive about teaching your children about dogs, who knows it might lead to a more respectful world or at the very least, happier teenage years for you!