Mama Sally: In my job as a professional dog trainer, I’m often working with families. Almost all parents of young children that I encounter feel completely overwhelmed with the stress of life, jobs, family, school, activities and dog. Dogs and puppies can be a blessing and most decidedly a curse for overwhelmed parents. Dogs can be very rough on young children in the home, which can add volumes to stress levels for overworked parents. Juggling kids and dogs can be a bit tricky to be sure!
To help make things easier at home once your dog is part of the family, I often help set up schedules and routines for families, so that things can be more predictable, and families can make the most of positive interaction between kids and dogs. Here are some general things that will help:
- Dogs interact better with children when the dog has had some decent exercise. Why not take a family walk together, either right after school or right before or after supper? That way, the kids and the dog are both tired by the time you get back home! You can make that a great time to catch up on everyone’s day, teach your kids about the importance of exercise, and play fun “I Spy” types of games as well as train/exercise your dog at the same time!
- Think short segments of time. Everything seems manageable when it’s a short time. You can let the kids and dog play together for 15-20 minutes at a time and that helps keep things from ramping up into rough play together.
- Few families have extra time in the morning, so try to use your confinement area or crate to help corral the dog while you’re getting the family up and out the door. No one wants to start their day scolding the dog for chasing or nipping the kids at breakfast!
- Keeping the dog leashed around the children will eliminate a whole lot of problems!! He will be corrected every single time he misbehaves, and he will learn to respect these little humans who seem to have such value in the home! Children and dogs should never be left alone together, so if you can’t involve yourself to oversee things, be sure that you confine the dog until you can.
- Likewise, kids will be kids, so your dog needs to have you protect him from kids who poke, prod, hit and pull! Even a very tame and gentle dog will respond when they’ve had enough. Sometimes that response comes with an ugly bite, so please be very vigilant with kids and dogs together! It’s not fair or realistic to expect a dog to “just take it” when the kids hurt or annoy him. Leaders protect!
- Plan ahead to get that optimal experience. Limit the exposure between your kids and your dog until both of them understand the rules and can consistently follow them. Until that happens, oversee things to keep everyone safe and you’ll also minimize bad habits from forming.
Rugby James: Well, when I came to live wif the Mama, the Lindsay was purty much all growed up. I really doesn’t has any good experience wif lil Uprights on account of the Mama doesn’t have any of them. But, I can tell you that I know part of the problems doggers has wif kids is on account of kids is unpredictable. They doesn’t always follow rules what they get taught. I doesn’t know any dogger what likesa have his ears or wagger pulled, or even his furs! Sumtimes kids poke doggers in their eyes, and that just hurts! They pet nicely one time, and hit or pull the very next. How’s a dogger supposed to know what treatment they will get?
I know I always likesa know what comes next. I likesa have a routine for my day and sumping what I can count on and know it will be the same way every time. I needsa know that I’m gonna be safe and that sumpawdy will protect me from getting hurt or scared. Uprights gotsa stay on top of fings wif their doggers sos we can learn the rules.
When I first comed to live wif the Mama, she putted me on a leash all the time and gived me a good schedule sos I could learn that I would have regular food, play, walks, training and sleep. That’s what makes a dogger feel secure and safe and then they can trust their Uprights.