Having children means at some point you are probably going to introduce a furry friend into the family. Whether it’s a hamster or a horse, children and animals are a pretty magical mix. Dogs are a fantastic family pet for households with children. They provide a best friend to adventure with, a protector to sleep with at night and often, a friendly paw when there are tears. But, how do you teach your children the signs that it’s time to give their new BFF some space?
A dog will chase your children around for hours and, if there is food involved, be at their side frequently throughout the day so it is hard for kids to understand when your poor pooch has had enough. There has been a huge rise in incidents involving children and their beloved pets, more often than not it’s because of a simple misreading of the signs.
Yawning and licking lips is a pretty good early indicator your dog is feeling anxious. If you notice your dog doing these things then it’s time to get involved. The best way is to redirect your child with a task such as helping mummy put the shopping away or sitting at the table to draw a picture. Make sure your child is elevated and not on the ground with fido. Give your dog a pat and reassure him he has done nothing wrong.
Giving your dog his own zone in a couple of rooms around your house is a great idea. Ensuring you teach your children that they are not to play if he/she is in these areas. A crate works wonders as it provides a dog with a feeling of security and peace. Perhaps you could also look at purchasing a couple of pillow beds and place one in your living room and the kitchen. This way your dog knows he has a safe zone and your children know to give him space.
Avoidance is another sign your dog has had enough. Whilst it can be hard to teach a toddler that a dog running away isn’t the start of a great game of chase, you do need to stay alert. Again removing your child and diverting their attention with something fun will give your dog the moment’s peace he needs.
Growling will probably be the last resort for your dog … before teeth get involved. If you have been distracted by something around the house and your child has cornered your pup, it is likely they may growl. You need to teach your children not to be frightened by this but a growl is a dog way of saying “Please, I’ve had enough”
Try to remember that your dog hasn’t done anything wrong. Do not scold him. A growl is the point in which you need to remove your dog and give him complete separation from the family. Give him something to take his mind of his stress such as a chew or food game.
It’s easy to keep a harmony between our pets and our children but the important part is teaching your children, not just training your dog.