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They say a dog is man’s best friend, but did you know that kids are a dog's best friend too? Dogs and children make a perfect combination, especially when your dog has learned how to behave around children.
Some dog breeds such as the boxer and Labrador Retriever are naturally good with children, but there are other breeds that require time and training to bond with kids.
If you are a parent who wants to own your first dog or a dog owner planning to become a first-time parent, it’s important to learn how you can childproof your dog well in advance.
Teaching your dog how to be child-friendly is just as important as house training. You should focus on helping your kids and dog to develop a healthy relationship by being comfortable with each other.
To get you started, here are a few tips to train your dog and kids to coexist peacefully and have fun whenever they are together:
1. It All Starts with Training
When you bring a new pup to your home, your first goal should be to train the dog to adjust to the new surroundings and the people in your home.
If you have children, the training should focus on ensuring that the dog and kids get along well. Keep in mind that there’s no way you will avoid constant interaction between the kids and the dog.
Focus on teaching the dog how to control aggression and play safely with the kids. Children should also be taught the importance of being kind and loving to the dog. Developing mutual respect is the first step in establishing a healthy relationship between the dog and the kids.
You should also consider crate training your dog. This is because dogs often behave more friendly around children when they have an escape route.
Crate training helps the dog to be comfortable and happy while inside its safe place and look forward to the next time it will interact with your children.
2. Train Your Children on How to Interact with a Dog
Your dog isn’t the only one that needs training. Your children will also need to be taught how to create a stable relationship with the dog.
Both parties should understand what is expected of each of them. The most effective way to do this is by involving your children in the dog training process.
You should also give your children rules to follow when interacting with the dog. The rules will not only apply to your children but other kids who come to your home.
Make sure that they understand and follow simple rules such as:
- Pet the dog gently
- Don’t force attention of the dog
- Stay off the dog scratch
- Avoid approaching the dog why it’s feeding
- Let the dog be when it’s asleep
- Play with a dog only when there’s an adult around
3. Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways of building a good relationship between your dog and kids.
For instance, when the dog shows good behavior around children, let the child praise the dogs or give it treats.
The dog will gradually learn that rewards and good things come when kids are around. It will even happily search for kids and maintain good behavior to keep the rewards coming.
4. Encourage Kids to Be Friendly to the Dog
Your children should always show friendly behavior to the dog.
For example, they should know that reaching out suddenly can startle the dog and should always offer an opened file a few inches from the dog's body and allowed the puppy to sniff and approach gradually.
Safe and pet-friendly bark collars can also help to reduce fear among children that would make them startle the dog and provoke aggressive behavior.
5. Teach Your Children to Think Like A Dog
Children will learn how to get along with a dog when they think like one. For example, you can ask your children how they would feel if someone started poking at them while they were eating or sleeping.
Let them know that dogs have feelings too just like they do and expect to be treated in the same way the kids would want anyone else to treat them.
6. Take the Dog to the Local Park Together with Your Children
The most effective way of getting a dog to be comfortable with children is to give them as much playtime together as possible.
Your local park provides a perfect place for play and interaction. Just remember to keep the dog on a leash. If the dog barks a lot, find one of the best bark collars to prevent the dog from distracting other people in the park.
Expose to other kids in the park may overwhelm or intimidate the dog so keep a close distance just in case the dog starts behaving badly.
Training your dog and kids to be comfortable together can be a little tricky but definitely worth it.
Even if you don’t have children in your house, it’s still important to train your dog to behave well around kids because you may have visitors who come along with their children.