Whether your family structure began with a canine companion followed by a human child, or vice-versa, creating a healthy and safe relationship between a child and dog are key in maintaining a harmonious home environment.
A couple of training tips you’ll want to consider for both children and dogs are as follows:
Greeting One Another: Children should maintain an easy, unhurried approach, as opposed to over-the-top exuberance. The latter might cause the dog to get startled and become scared. Or, he or she might become overly excited and jump up, maybe even knocking the child over. It’s important to teach dogs how to greet people. Train your dog to perform a sit or down-stay. (Or at the very least, four-paws-on-the-floor). This is a polite way of greeting all people, especially those on the younger, smaller side.
Teach children that dogs enjoy having his or her own space now and again. When a dog is napping or chewing on a favorite bone, it’s best to leave the dog alone to enjoy his or her own “me time”.
When it comes to grooming, children can help train their dog to enjoy being brushed by playing “Groomer”. Have them hand feed their dog using kibble or healthy treats while at the same time brushing their dog. Their canine companion will become conditioned to being brushed while at the same time enhancing the trusting relationship he or she shares with the child.
Taking the time to help build relationships between children and dogs is an important component in creating a loving atmosphere – plus, it’s just a lot of fun when done in a humane and safe way for all.
Joan Mayer is a certified professional dog trainer and founder of the Inquisitive Canine. Her love-of-dog training methodology highlights the importance of education and understanding canine behavior, while encompassing reward-based training methods that are simple, fun and enjoyable for all.