Congrats, you made it, you have it all and your living the dream. The house, the kids and now you have the dog! Or even if you don’t and all you have are a slew of fur kids and the human kind only come to visit, I thought I’d give you some basic tips that can help around the holidays. Approximately, 5 Million children get bitten by a dog a year in the U.S. and the main culprit? The family dog.
Unpredictable children, shy dogs and add a little food dropped on the flor and that’s a recipe for a potential disaster! Not good or merry, if that happens.
Your dog is counting on you to create some boundaries. Dogs often see children as submissive beings. In other words, dogs see children as they would another dog. Which means they want to play, nip, chase and growl even warn or snap.You need to be aware. Not every dog is used to being around kids. Sometimes it’s a size issue others it’s an age issue and fluffy cute dogs are the biggest target. Think about it, your relatives dog is not always socialized trained or used to being around kids.
The main thing to be careful of is furniture, dogs and small children. Dogs go underneath chairs and tables. They may growl and a young child does NOT heed to the growl. Growl is a warning that I’m going to bite. Not if, when.
Paws For A Minute: Holidays- Child and Dog Safety
1. Time feed your dog.
In other words do not leave the food out at all times. Create a feeding time for your dog. Put the food down for 20 minutes and if your dog does not finish “sorry Charlie” until the next feeding. I know your thinking not a problem…my dog wolfs his food. However, some dogs may be finicky eaters and this is not a great thing around kids. You don’t want your dog to be or become food possessive, even if he never has been before! This can be especially true with older dogs and young children. Baby gating your dog in a space so he can eat in peace helps too.
2. Exercise, before the feast.
A tired dog is a great dog. Especially before people come over. So best to schedule the time. If you are going to let your dog and your children play together try to tire your dog out first. I know who has the time. But really if you can play fetch or let your dog rip around the back yard for a few minutes before the kids especially toddlers go outside this will help. Large breed puppies can over power kids unless they get their ya-ya’s out first.
3. Walk your dog around the house for a few minutes on the leash.
Sounds crazy I know… but this is especially helpful with young exuberant dogs and toddlers or small children. Walk around your living room and when you stop pull gently up on the leash and ask your dog to sit. This will create eye contact from your dog. Then you can praise him.
This technique sets a positive tone for your dog and calms him/her down, instead of busting into a room and mowing down a child. Children get to see the dog and perhaps give a treat in a controlled manner. If your dog goes koo-koo on the leash, then quickly pivot and say lets go. Walk a few steps to change the focus while using a upbeat voice, This will redirect the initial barking. Lastly and obviously, if your dog simply isn’t good with children then don’t risk it.
4. No rough play
I know sorry Dad’s. It sends a mixed signal to the dog. Avoid games like tug of war. Not good, it promotes growling. Remember your little kids are like playmates to your dog. Therefore rough play can transfer to your dog wanting to tackle your kid.
5. Teach your dog to fetch
Create a ball-o-holic out of your dog. This is a great activity for the kids to play with the dog. Parents need to implement it first. This is a great way to bond and interact. It takes the intensity off the child and dog and onto a ball. The child gets to watch and participate. Here’s how… The key is to use one special fetch ball. Keep it in a special place and only use it during the game of fetch. When teaching your dog to fetch use anticipation as the incentive.
Ask our dog to sit. Then throw the ball as you say o.k. As your dog gets the ball, crouch down and clap your hands, praising your dog. As he runs towards you take a treat out of your pocket suddenly stand up and say sit. Your dog will spit out the ball for the treat. Then begin again. The key is to only throw the ball twice then put the ball away. The next day throw it three times, the next day four, etc.
Before your know it you will have a bona fide ball-o-hollic. Then your kids can take over and have a fun safe game to play with your dog