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Managing Dogs and Kids
05/19/15 at 09:12 AM | Published Under Dog Toys
A relationship between the family dog and young children can be very rewarding bond. In fact, very often the family pet is a toddler’s first friend. There are other pluses too; children that grow up around pets learn to understand them and not be afraid of them. It’s all about teaching to respect one another and this includes respecting and learning to differentiate between each other’s toys!
Certified applied animal behaviorist John C. Wright, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia says that when a child enters the toddler phase, it’s time to introduce the Don’t Do This, But Do That Rule.
“This means teach your child by example and simultaneously tell them. ‘Don’t pull the dog/cat by the tail, but stoke her like this,’” explains Wright. “And immediately offer praise so that the child knows that the pet is happy.”
All interaction between dogs and small children should be under adult supervision. A big dog can accidently knock over a small child in boisterous play. And, similarly, a child can fall and hurt a smaller pet.
When teaching kids to enjoy being around pets, its important to spell out the following:
- A dog or a cat is not a toy.
- How to read the pet’s very basic body language that indicates, annoyance, anger or fear.
- How to recognize that the pet has had enough and wants to be left alone.
- Never hold a dog or a cat against her will or corner her.
- Never bother a pet when it’s sleeping, eating (and in the case of cats, using the litter box).
- Because a lot of pets are food-driven, children should be taught never to tease a pet with food – or even a toy! This is something that you need to repeat – often!
One of the best ways to teach children to respect a pet is to involve them in the dog’s routine. It can be done from a very young age. Even as toddlers, children can be taught to check if there is food in the dog’s food bowl and to make sure there is always fresh water available. And, as soon as they are old enough, children can take over these chores. The same applies to brushing and grooming the dog on a regular basis.
When it comes to the doggie toy box, its important to try and look for toys with different textures. Seeing there are so many plush toys for dogs, it may be a good idea to look for toys made from a toweling fabric for young children until they are old enough for you to explain to whom each toy belongs.
Not only do kids’ toys and dogs’ toys look alike, but they sound alike too. Plush dog toys, flat or stuffed contain squeakers such as the goDog Crazy Tugz. Again, it may be a good idea to avoid toys with squeakers for really young kids and go for things that rattle or have bells instead.
And from your dog’s stand point, if you want your pooch to learn what toys belong in the doggie toy box as opposed to the kids’ toys chest, allow them to play with a particular toy couple of times before you put it in amongst the other “official” dog toys. This way, when the dog picks it up, it will automatically recognize its own scent on it.
Neighborhood children and friends who visit regularly must also be taught to understand and respect your dog and treat him as a fun playmate too. And the same way children need constant reminders; the dog will need the same nudges on an on-going basis.