A dog can provide your child with many benefits, some of which are developing empathy and responsibility. Also, having a dog means your child will be happier and more physically active and therefore healthier. But what can you do to make sure that your child and your pet bond? Here are some guidelines to help you achieve that.
Supervise their interaction
You should never leave a young child alone with the dog. You need to be present when they interact in order to observe their body language, as well as to teach your child to handle and touch the dog gently, with care and to always approach it slowly and calmly. You should also be there to intervene if there’s a problem, if you see that the dog is acting anxiously and doesn’t want to be petted or played with. It might also be a good idea to guide your child’s hand when they touch the dog, at least in the beginning. That way, they’ll know not to be rough.
Don’t let your child discipline the dog
If a dog does something wrong, like chewing on something it shouldn’t or eating food that’s not meant for it, never allow your child to discipline it. You should teach your child to tell you if something like that happens, rather than react themselves. First of all, you will know what to do, while your child may not, and second, you will avoid the scenario in which the dog defends itself by biting your child. Remember, your kid will observe and then try to copy the way treat the dog, so use positive and negative reinforcement to discipline it. In other words, reward your dog for good behavior and withhold the reward when it doesn’t cooperate. Never use physical punishment, since it can damage the trust and the bond between you, as well as make your dog aggressive.
Create a safe place for the dog
Sometimes, the dog just wants to be left alone. It wants to eat, chew on its bone, play with its toy or simply sleep. In those cases, you mustn’t allow the child to touch the dog or try to take its food or toy away. The best solution is to create a place in your home where the dog can go when it wants to be alone. It can be something as simple as a comfortable Snooza bed, where the dog can sleep and play, but you have to teach your child that they should under no circumstances touch the dog while in the bed. You should learn how to read your dog’s behavior and body language, so that you can recognize when it’s under stress, or it’s overwhelmed and had enough of interaction with the child. You can then even guide the dog to its safe place and away from the child.
Include your child in daily dog care
Kids are actually happy when you let them help you with anything, especially if it’s caring for the family dog. Even pre-school children can fill the water bowl or join you when you walk the dog. The more things they do together, the stronger the bond and trust between them will be. When the child is old enough, they can even feed and bathe the dog, or walk them alone. It’s also good to allow your child to play with the pet as often as possible, but again, only under your active supervision. Plus, whenever your child is there, speak in a calm and cheerful voice, pet your dog as much as possible and let your child do so, too. Both you and your child should give the dog treats, their favorite toys and praise them generously, so that the dog associates the child’s presence with positive things.
Once created, the bond between your dog and your kid should be nurtured and cherished, since it will be one of the most precious things in your little one’s childhood. So, do your best to make that happen and the love and joy in your house will multiply before you even know it.
This article is contributed by Diana Smith, she is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested topics related to home design and latest DIY projects. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.