Kids and Dogs - 5 steps to the best relationship

Getting a puppy, last updated 10th, Oct 2020, DogSpot

We love all things dog. In our endeavour to bring education to pet parents, we collaborated with Huzannah B. Joseph, Psychologist, Canine Behaviourist & Founder- Paw Pals to speak about the best methods to establish a loving relationship between your kids and your dog.

In conversation with founder of HappyTails Pune and Canine behaviorist, Meera Thosar, she spoke about establishing boundaries and taking steps to ensure a healthy integration of furry baies and human babies. Read on more insights.

A Happy Child and Happy Dog Go Hand in Hand

Dogs are man’s best friend. But what we often forget is that it takes two to tango, even with your dog. A lot of times, people get a dog home expecting that it will behave and reciprocate the way they want her to. What they side-line entirely is that dogs have their moods too. And while most of the time they are in their most giving mode, there can be times when they are not in the right mood or let’s say, comfortable. If we fail to recognize and understand this behaviour and give the dog space and time off she wants, we lead the road to unwanted and unnecessary accidents. 

To make you understand small signs your dog exhibits and to make you and your child more dog friendly, we are here to guide you bit by bit. The more happily ever after dog homes, the happier we are!

Let your Child and Dog Bond

Getting a puppy home is just as exciting as getting a baby home. Introductions need to be made, and associations need to be built. However, often this process is given too much attention and importance, leading to undue pressure – on both the child and the dog. We often try to pass our love for dogs to our children. Whereas what is required is giving time to this relationship to bloom. Not every child is dog friendly, and not every dog is child friendly. But with time and understanding, the most unique and loving relationship can be built on the towers of trust and mutual respect between the two. Consent plays a vital role in developing this bond from your dog and your child. Nobody likes to be smothered for no reason, and the same goes for your dog. 

 

Not every child is dog friendly, and not every dog is child friendly. But with time and understanding, the most unique and loving relationship can be built on the towers of trust and mutual respect between the two.

 

If your child is scared of your dog or any other dog in the vicinity, then encouraging your child to watch the dog from a distance or give her treats from a reasonable distance helps your child and the dog gain confidence towards each other. Whenever you feel, that either one of them is feeling overwhelmed then as parents, its best to let them take a break – from each other! 

Unnecessary petting and interactions cause bites. It’s better to invite the dog to yourself and then pet her rather than doing it when she is resting or eating or just sitting. Invites decrease bites!

Body Language of your Dog

We all love a lovely sight of a baby hugging her dog. But maybe for the dog, the experience is not so enjoyable. Therefore, it is crucial to watch and understand your dog’s body language. When you feel that your dog is uncomfortable or looking away, then maybe it is time to shift your child away from your dog. Consent forms an important role here – from the dog and the child. You, as a pet parent, should be aware of what your dog is telling you. You must respect what your dog conveys to you rather than expect that your dog will tolerate anything. 

The ears and eyes signify what your dog is feeling. A whale eye is when the dog is being disturbed or distracted and does not like it. Similarly, relaxed ears are when the dog is relaxed and comfortable, but when her ears are back or flat, shows that the dog is not entirely happy with whatever is being done to her. The tail of your dog is a very common body language exhibitor. When your dog tucks her tail between her legs, she is trying to communicate loud and clear to you that she is not comfortable.

Pet, Pet, Stop!

One technique formulated by Huzannah B. Joseph, which includes all the things mentioned above is Pet, Pet and then stop. This simply means that you should pet your dog once or twice and then pause to see whether the dog likes it or wants more of it. This gives a break in the action going on between the two and prevents the possibility of unnecessary bites. Also, it is advised that petting your dog right on the head should be avoided, especially by children.

Dogs can sense that children are unpredictable and can do anything, therefore, if your child is guided and told to pet on the shoulder rather than the dog’s forehead or snout, it doesn’t startle the dog. If your dog is uncomfortable, she will walk away and also exhibit body language for the same. Using one hand to pet your dog is always better than both. 

 

Consent forms an important role here – from the dog and the child. You, as a pet parent, should be aware of what your dog is telling you. You must respect what your dog conveys to you rather than expect that your dog will tolerate anything. 

 

Dogs for Children with Special Needs

It is essential to get a dog belonging to a calm breed. Any dog which is hyper or overflowing with energy can cause more harm than good. Children with special needs need a lot of love and care. So do dogs. Care should be taken that such children should not unintentionally harm the dog or take advantage of her. It is also essential to individually assess the dog before you get her home.  

Building a Strong Bond between your Dog and Child

Building a strong bond with a dog can never be difficult since dogs are the most loving creatures ever. However, if you follow a few simple rules and guide your children as well, you will have a connection of a lifetime with your dog. If your children are too young to walk the dog or feed her, then you can start by assigning the child simple chores of your dog, like refilling her water bowl and place it in a particular place. If your children are older, then, trips to the vets, walking the dog, feeding or bathing her, are all safe ways to make your dog feel cared and loved for, without either one of them feeling overwhelmed. You should always keep an eye on your dog’s body language and teach your child to recognize them as well; that way, your dog will trust your child more. So when your child can decipher that the dog is not comfortable right now or does not want me around her and lets her be, the dog will understand that your child respects her. This leads the dogs to take more initiative in strengthening the bond themselves. 

The relationship between a family with a dog is always beautiful and full of love. And we want to make sure that there are no bumps in this journey for you or your dog, ever! Rest assured, keeping these cues in mind; you will always have more love to give to your four-legged friend!

FAQ’S

1. My wife is expecting, can my dog sense that there is going to be another member in the family?

We don’t know for sure, but what we do know that dogs observe their parents and can tell that something is different with the way the lady walks, usually in the third trimester. Pregnant women smell different due to their hormones, so most dogs can smell it and somehow become more protective of their pregnant pet parent. That is just the dog’s reaction to change and vulnerability.

2. What is the right age to get a canine sibling for my 2-year-old daughter?

If you want to adopt an adult dog, then the right age for your child is anywhere between 3 to 5 years. Also getting an adult dog, you can first foster her and get to know her temperament. Usually the age of 5 years and above is right to get a canine sibling home as by the age of 5, most kids can understand and follow the rules. The older the child, the easier it is for the dog and the adults. However, kids, no matter what age, always need adult supervision and guidance in how to bond with a dog.

 

Dogspot.in went live with Huzannah B. Joseph, Psychologist, Canine Behaviourist & Founder- Paw Pals in conversation with Meera Thosar, Canine behaviourist and founder Happytails, Pune and enlightened the audience with information on how children interact with animals at home. 

We hope we answered all your queries regarding the topic. In case you have any further questions about the topic, please feel free to leave it in the comments below. An expert will be happy to guide you!

Transcribed by: Naisan Rab

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