Man’s Best Friend Can Also Be Baby’s Best Friend: What to Know About Dogs and Babies
6 min read
Dogs and kids provide each other with a mutually beneficial and satisfying relationship. While you must take certain precautions with young children and babies when exposing them to your dog, a well-behaved child, together with a trained dog, can provide each other priceless enrichment.
Dogs and Kids
Having a dog can potentially teach children to care for someone other than themselves. Feeding, providing water, and cleaning up after a puppy help kids learn social responsibility and accountability. Emotional support and the sense of accomplishment children obtain from having a dog in the family and helping care for her develop qualities like self-esteem, confidence, insight, and reasoning skills. Dogs benefit from having consistent companionship and an active playmate. If a puppy and child grow up together, they each know they will have a true friend forever. Children can keep dogs young and spry through persistent interaction. Parents benefit from the dog-kid bond through decreased stress and increased trust.
Teaching a Dog
Dogs can be around babies, like anything else, as long as you have taken time to socialize her at a young age. You may have luck in that your dog has already experienced being around kids and loves them. If not, you must teach your dog how to behave around babies before the infant even arrives. It can be challenging when you do not know how your dog will react to a newborn or a toddler, but several techniques can train your pet on how to respond to your cues rather than react to stimuli from the baby.
Touch - Teach your dog to touch your hand on command and transfer this to the baby. People also use Touch to deter puppies from nipping them.
Train - Train with "calm" and "down" commands
Practice with a doll - A crying doll is ideal, but get your pet used to you diapering, bottle-feeding, and holding it. Desensitize your dog to sounds.
Teach your dog to be more independent - Prepare your dog for less of your attention rather than lavishing him with extra affection out of a sense of guilt. Teach your dog to entertain himself with puzzles and other interactive toys.
Exercise - Maintain your dog's exercise routine even if you have to hire help. Your dog must continue to have her exercise needs met, and many dogs require over an hour a day.
Introduce - New smells and baby items , at the same time, teach your dog which things are off-limits.
Finding the Right Kind
No dog breed is universally great with children just as there are no types that always pose nightmares for families with kids. Socialization plays a much larger role than a dog's breed in how well it will get along with kids. Nevertheless, particular dog breeds seem to consistently enjoy children, sometimes even better than adults. Golden Retrievers, for example, are a good choice. A Golden Retriever's temperament makes them very popular for families. Other breeds like beagles and labrador retrievers also have great temperaments for families. Look for dogs that are physically sturdy, mentally patient, generally friendly, obedient, willing to please, and energetic without being unmanageably hyper.
A Puppy or a Dog?
Many dog owners recognize puppies as highly adoptable pets and picture an idyllic relationship whereby a dog and her human grow up together. However, experts often advise that the younger the child, the older the dog should be. Specifically, if your kid is under five or six years old, you should select a dog that is over two years of age.
Mature dogs have a few advantages over puppies. First of all, they have been around the block. An older dog will not be as likely to have his first experience with socialization with your child.
Another good thing about an older dog is that they have passed the biting phase . Puppies often bite in their early years as they experience everything with their mouths and learn how to control their jaw strength.
Another great thing about older dogs is that they don’t take as much time to take care of. Puppies require extensive socialization between the tender age of eight and sixteen weeks as well as training. Young dogs need a high level of commitment that may add strain to a family that is tending to the demands of a newborn baby or toddler.
Some breeds you may want to avoid are hard-working herding breeds such as German Shepherds and Border Collies, who may herd children and have tremendous exercise and intellectual requirements. Guard dogs and protective types tend to be large dogs and may have issues with aggression or be too territorial for kids and their young friends. Finally, toy breeds are usually too small, fragile, and high-strung for young kids. They can be susceptible to fractured bones when kids inadvertently step on them or can be snappy because they are fearful or intolerant of loud noises and rough play.
Whether you pick out a new dog for your child or you have a family pet who must now adjust to a new member, you always need to supervise interactions between a kid and a canine. A dog may react unpredictably to strange noises and smells, especially at first. A dog's protective instincts may cause her to inadvertently harm a vulnerable infant. A dog may sit on a baby, try to carry the child, or treat the infant like a toy or prey. Dogs sometimes become possessive of infants. Do not allow your dog to lick your baby's face or paw at her. Some baby toys and mobility units cause excitement in dogs. Make sure your dog still gets dedicated attention from you every day without the baby.
Teaching a Kid
Once your child is no longer an infant, he or she should learn how to behave appropriately around your dog. Teaching kids how to be calm and gentle around their pets will help your dog always have positive associations with children. Teach your child the difference between his or her toys and the dog's things. Train dogs to not be possessive with positive reinforcement but also stress to your kid that it is rude to steal toys or food from their dog. Discourage your child from staring any dog in the eyes. Many canids find direct eye contact uncomfortable at best and threatening at the worst. Kids should leave dogs alone while eating or sleeping. Make sure dogs and children have time apart. Ensure your dog has a way to escape if he wants. Create an off-limits area for your pet. You can specially train dogs to tolerate hugging, but most canines do not enjoy it. Discourage your child from hugging, hanging on, climbing over, or crowding dogs. Teach other interactions that do not involve close contact with the dog such as fetch and other games.
Reading the Signs
If you always supervise your dog with your child, you will be able to read your pet's body language and determine if the situation needs intervention before a serious problem occurs. Most dogs dislike biting and therefore give every possible warning to help you avoid aggression.
Here are some signs you should pay attention to and what they mean:
Wide eyes - Expresses anxiety or discomfort.
Licking - Dogs lick for numerous reasons but knowing your pet will help you determine anxious licking. Dogs Sometimes lick if they want a child to put them down. Licking can lead to a bite if you ignore other signals that indicate discomfort.
Tail tucked - Dogs tensely tuck their tails between their legs when they are frightened or anxious. Tense and fearful dogs are much more likely to bite than calm and happy ones.
Ears pinned - Fear or anxiety.
Trembling- Learn to differentiate between anxiety and your dog is cold.
Dog looks away - Dog wants to avoid. Cornered dogs can bite.
Growling and barking - Should be obvious, but some dogs playfully growl. Familiarity with your dog will tell you the difference.
Dogs perform most actions with either relaxation (ears back in response to stroking them) or tension (lips rolled back in a grimace of fear). Remove your dog from a situation that seems to make her tense. When in doubt, separate the child, and dog, giving them a time out. Tension and disagreements do not mean your dog does not like children but simply may indicate your pet has had enough.
In most cases, dogs provide numerous benefits for families and their kids. A beautiful relationship between your baby and dog begins with socialization and education of a pet with the right type of temperament. Harmonious kid-dog interactions continue with constant supervision, education of the child, and listening to your four-legged friend.