Preparing your dog for your child’s toddlerhood is really important! Depending on your dogs age, previous exposure to children, food, toys and chew bones will help determine where you need to focus your dog training and socialization. Assessing these points will help you determine safety. Just because your dog is nice and gentle with you and other adult people doesn’t mean a child can’t become a target, by accident!
Dog owners can deem their dog good with children or fine with the baby but with toddlers, I think special a “wild card” factor can happen. No matter what size or breed of dog you own taking the right precautions, educating yourself, and having foresight in certain areas in your home can be a great preventative to an accident. Remember, a toddler can mirror what I call the “loose squirrel” in the house effect, and in those moments add to a parents fantasy to self medicate. Unpredictability to say the least! Parents often adopt a mesmerizing chant declaring “be nice” to the doggy and watch with discernment. This does not protect the dog, which as a parent, you need to factor in to your observation. No matter what size, age or breed, dogs see a child as they would another dog. They operate in a more predictable manner than you image.
Paws For A Minute™ Quick tip: Preparing Your Dog For Your Child’s Toddlerhood!
1. Review all “on leash” commands. This is a great way to tune up your dog. Basic commands like heel, sit, stay and come on leash builds the bond. Never did that before? Then now is a great opportunity! Leash training is a great way to create eye contact between you and your dog and it reinforces praise. What it does very effectively is creates a bond and an understanding that simply off leash repetition and cookie’s don’t accomplish in the same way, It is so fun for a dog. If you do this exercise in the house for 5 minutes a day, it can really tune up your relationship. A few minutes a day will help communicate volumes to your dog and create trust, especially with a new creature that’s crawling and falling all over there territory now!
2. Hand feed you dog, occasionally a few servings. This helps determine any food bowl issues and get your dog used to being interrupted while eating. If your have issues of territorial behavior in this area of life, you must seek professional training.
3. Bring your dog to the vet for a check up. Dogs that are 5 years and up should be checked for lumps and bumps. As your Toddler begins to poke and pat you want to make sure all is well with your dog health wise. Some times older dogs don’t feel well and YOU would never know it.
4. Boundary’s are a great thing. Get your dog used to being baby gated once in a while. This prevents self induced insanity by trying to control your toddler and protect the dog, all at the same time. The gate will allow your child and dog to see each other yet not be the center of attraction. However, the gate’s main purpose in this lifestyle circumstance is to prevent your dog from seeking cover from the child itself. Allowing your dog to seek cover underneath furniture (from your child) is where the danger lies. Going under furniture is a dangerous practice and one that parents/owners need to be aware. Gating your dog prior and then allowing your toddler play time is a better way to teach both how to interact.
5. Brush your dog’s coat. During dog time ( without your toddler) put your dog on a leash and gently brush his coat for a few minutes. The leash helps your dog not wander off during the massage. Associating a treat during this process is also a great thing. Brushing your dog is a great way to get him used to being touched, everywhere even the tail!
More Mutt-rimony to come… Have a great day!