Dogs and kids

I have had dogs since the age of 18. We had two and three when my three children were born. And we had three dogs when my children were toddlers. We used baby gates a lot. And supervision was around the clock if the kids were hanging out with the dogs. But it wasn't until my son was born that the challenges started.

Both my daughters are huge dog lovers; but they weren't always interested in dogs. When they were small there wasn't a lot of interactions between them and it was not until the arrival of my son that the dogs learned about little kids. My son was different than my girls, as soon as he was mobile he made a b-line to the dogs. I remember the growling and the look on poor Clyde's face. As a Mother a growling dog is not something you want to hear but from Clyde's point of view he did not want a smelly small human crawling his way or on him.

So with work and time Clyde and my son got use to each other and learned how to appropriately interact. This is one of the most important things you can teach your dog and your child. Often when I am called in to work with a "problem" between children and dogs it is simply a lack of supervision and boundaries created by the parent.

I don't know how many times I've heard a parent say "the dog is going to bite you." If you think a dog is going to bite your child; whether it is your dog or someone elses dog then you should stop your child. It should never, ever be left to the dog to discipline your child; which is a very dangerous situation. It takes time for dogs to become accustom to children, especially small crawling children.

But even older kids can freak dogs out, it amazes me how dogs can tell the difference between a teenage human and an adult. Luke grew up with teenage kids and after a couple of years my sons friends look very much like grown men; at least in their size. But Luke could always tell the difference, he loved this age kids but grown men he wasn't really fond of. He acted differently and more guarding when a grown man would come in the house vs. a teenage boy.

It is so important to socialize dogs with children and if you can do it when they are puppies; all the better. Kids can really spook dogs and dogs can spook kids causing them to act strange with each other. Babies, toddler, kids and teenages smell different than grown humans. And they act very different at every age; to expect a dog to be okay with each you must socialize them with each.

The most important thing that I can never say often enough is to NEVER, EVER leave dogs and children alone. It is a recipe for a disaster. Of course all children and all dogs are different so at what age you allow them to be together is very individual. And as far as teaching each how to act with the other, that is the parents sole responsibility.

Never leave the disciplining of the kids to the dog, NEVER.

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