It has been said that a dog is ‘man’s best friend’ and that a well trained dog can provide much love, fun, and security, but at the end of the day this same dog is an animal, one that can be dangerous inflicting serious injuries and even causing death.
It is therefore vital that just as at an early age a puppy is trained, so must children be educated in the correct ways of dealing with a canine, and that always when a child and dog are ‘loose’ together that they are under adult supervision.
Children must always understand that a dog, especially a puppy, is not a toy, a doll or teddy bear. Children love being cuddled and hugged, kissed and carried around but they also know that at times they can become grumpy and irritable when adults fuss them too much.
Well, a dog is exactly the same they do not want to be disturbed when eating or resting or sleeping but they cannot say ‘go away’ or cry, they get grumpy and may snap at the offender.
Adults must be aware that young children may unwittingly encourage puppies to chase them often leading to play biting, the puppy sees the child as one of its own and in the excitement of play an injury can occur, so therefore always adult supervision.
However, older children and even adults can be guilty of over-stimulating an excitable puppy one minute and then telling it off for the same thing a minute later and even worse hitting it the next!
Adults should avoid and definitely should not let children play aggressive rough games with any puppy as this may result in a dog with aggression and behavior problems later on.
Likewise taunting or making a puppy jealous can have serious implications in an adult dog, which remembering its puppy days can misjudge a situation and react in the wrong way.
Children should be encouraged to ignore a puppy unless it comes to them for attention. If they want to play with the dog, it should, by name, be invited to go to them.
Just as humans dislike close face-to-face interaction so do puppies so again children must learn not to push their faces into the dogs, or risk a painful nip!
Children should also be encouraged to put their toys, clothes, shoes, etc. out of the reach of a puppy, preventing the temptation for the puppy to claim items as its own;
this solves two possible problems, a child trying to pull away items from a dog and also the possibility of pup swallowing an item leading to a painful (for the dog and the adult’s purse) trip to a vet.
The most important lesson though is to teach respect for a living animal. Children must understand the need to give a dog space, let them have quiet time, and then when together to be quiet and gentle with one another.
The same rules really apply with children’s interaction with one another. Living with dogs will enrich their lives as long as they learn to understand canine language.
Caring for dogs encourages responsibility and develops empathy; there are so many positives providing a responsible adult has trained the dog and the child in the correct ways of living together.