Dogs: The World’s Most Exciting Teddy BearApril 30, 2019 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
There have been some devastating incidents between dogs and children in the media recently, and as parents, dog owners and dog professionals it’s deeply saddening and scary to be reminded of the reality of what can happen when we get this precious relationship between humans and canines so wrong.
Most of us began our love and fascination with dogs as children. Spotting them out and about on their walks, or tied up outside the corner shop. Maybe you were lucky enough to have one as a pet.
Children are naturally curious creatures and let’s be honest, dogs are pretty amazing. Even as adults it’s hard enough to muster enough self control to not greet cute puppies in the street. As children with limited impulse control and ten times the energy, it’s easy to see why they have a hard time leaving dogs be.
They are often confronted with ‘don’t’ and ‘no’ at every turn.
Don’t pull on Roxy’s ears like that. No you can’t hold Charlie’s lead. Don’t make so much noise by Reggie. Leave Lola alone. Stop this. Stop that.
There are lots of guides and advice on what kind of things you shouldn’t allow your children to do to or around dogs. They absolutely need to know those things and have clear boundaries around dogs, as well as appropriate supervision.
You should definitely follow that guidance and educate them as to what not to do, and also explain to them why.
However, just like with our dogs, we should also set our children up for success around dogs. By giving them a clear understanding of what they can do! Praise them, yes, Buddy likes you doing that. That way they know what is good and are more likely to do that in the future.
What does a great interaction between your dog and child look like, or your dog and a family friend or even a strangers child. Children love to interact with dogs, so give them a way of doing it that works for you and your dog.
Observing dogs is a great way to engage children in dogs positively, especially for young children who would struggle to understand instructions for up close interaction.
How many legs does a dog have? What colour fur does it have? Does it have spots? Do its ears stick up or flop down?
You can even begin teaching some basic canine body language. That doggy doesn’t look too happy, see how its ears are back and tail is tucked down.
This is perfect for dogs that you don’t know or ones that you do know that wouldn’t like any closer contact.
‘Can I hold the lead?’
Children love to hold the lead when walking the dog, especially if it’s their new family member.
It’s not always safe to hand the lead over to them but a great solution is to clip on a second lead for them to hold. That way you always have control too.
It’s a great training opportunity for your dog too, can they still walk nicely on the lead when there’s a different scenario? You may have to reward them to help them practice in this new situation.
Pet them like this
Instead of don’t, do! Children inevitably will want to touch dogs, it’s how they learn, process sensory information and let’s face it, a dog, to a child is the equivalent of the world’s most exciting teddy bear.
Many dogs do like to be fussed and have attention, it is important though that its how they actually like it. This can be something adults get wrong with our dogs, let alone children. So let’s give them clear instructions on the best way for our dogs.
Stroke him by here, he likes that.
He likes it when you are gentle, just like that.
It’s raining treats!
Watching a dog eat a scooby snack is a joy to behold for most children, and the dogs quite like it too!
Children can give a dog a treat for nice calm behaviour, great reinforcement for your dog.
A treat can be rolled across the floor for the dog to chase.
If your dog is less keen on children and needs a bit more space you can have the child hide a few treats around the room and then sit up on a chair out of the way and watch the dog sniff them out!
Where better for children to learn how to interact with their dog than at a child-friendly dog training class!
At Boomerang Dogs all of our classes are child-friendly. In fact we encourage the whole family to come and get involved in playing games and training the family dog.
Some of our young handlers take the lead, literally and figuratively, at the classes doing all of the training themselves! It’s amazing to see such great relationships flourishing and such responsible dog ownership in action.
Children are the dog owners and enthusiasts of the future!
We have a duty to foster healthy and positive relationships between children and dogs, so that the future is brighter, and safer for both dogs, and children alike.
Do you have children and a dog? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need advice on how to create a safe and positive relationship for your dog with children.