So, you’ve read our 5 Questions to Ask Before Getting a New Pet blog, and a new furry friend is about to join the family. But there’s one more hurdle to jump over - introducing your dog to your kids. Some people feel nervous about dogs interacting with their kids, particularly if it’s a young child. Dogs, especially puppies, are known to jump up to greet people or nip playfully when excited, which can be a bit overwhelming for small children. But there are ways you can introduce them both safely and help them to create a lifelong friendship. Wondering how it’s done? Take a look at our five steps for helping kids and dogs develop a best friend relationship.
Supervise small interactions
Shelter staff put all dogs available for adoption through rigorous behavioural testing, so you don’t need to be on the lookout for any aggressive behaviour from your new pet. However, first-time greetings are an exciting time for both the dog and child, and it’s easy for someone to get knocked over or slobbered on a bit too much in the heat of the moment. Therefore, it is important to supervise the first few interactions between your dog and kids just to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
When meeting a dog, it’s important to take things slow; let them approach your child first, let them sniff and make sure they’re spoken to in a low, calm voice. This will help your new dog feel safe and let them know your child is someone who can be trusted. It’s helpful to make sure your dog’s nails are clipped to ensure they don’t accidentally scratch anyone during play or if they do jump up in greeting. The BISSELLCat and Dog Nail Clippers will help you make short work of long nails.
Take a walk
As you know, dogs need daily exercise to burn off excess energy, stimulate their minds and offset any unhelpful behaviours like excessive barking or digging holes. Including little ones in your dog’s daily walk is a fantastic way for them to bond. The dog will associate kids with a positive experience, and it’s also a perfect opportunity for young family members to learn how to hold the lead correctly and walk the dog safely. Walking also allows both child and dog to become comfortable interacting with other dogs and new people, which is a vital step in your pet’s development.
Combine their playtime
Dogs of all ages enjoy playtime - whether it’s a simple game of fetch, tug-of-war or something more advanced like agility training. Playtime is another perfect opportunity for new pets and kids to get to know each other. Ask your child to give one of his toys to the pet. This teaches your toddler how to share and helps the dog become familiar with their scent as well as creating a positive association. Show your child how to hold a toy out to the pet safely to avoid any over-enthusiastic puppy nips. And if they’re playing tug-of-war, make sure your child knows to drop the toy if play becomes too rough.
Allow for quiet time
Adjusting to a new life with a dog is an exciting time for both your new pet and the family, but it can easily get overwhelming. An important part of building a best friend relationship is making sure your furry friend and young family members also spend some quiet and relaxed time together. For example, setting up a crate is a good place for dogs to retreat to when they need a break from tiny, grabby hands.
Include kids daily care
Kids love feeling involved in the care of a family pet. In addition to strengthening the relationship between owner and dog, getting your child involved in their feeding, grooming and clean up, it’s a great way to teach young kids responsibility. Daily pet care is simple but important. For example, ask your child to take over feeding the dog and cleaning their bowl after mealtimes, washing them with a BarkBath every week or cleaning up any waste out in the yard. Making kids a part of your dog’s everyday routine is an easy but effective way to build a best friend relationship.
Taking the right steps early on can go a long way in forming a life long bond between your kids and a new dog. For more pet care tips and tricks, including tried and tested clean up methods make sure you subscribe to the BISSELL blog!