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Teaching Kids To Interact With Dogs

by Lois R. Earles
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Being a pet owner who does not have a kid, when kids in my neighborhood show interest in playing with my dog, it always makes me anxious. My dog does not interact with kids daily; initially, I was not sure how she would react to kids who approached her. My pet loves humans as such and constantly wags her tail seeing one.

No wonder I always knew she would turn out to be human-friendly, as she is a doodle, to be precise, a Labradoodle who has traits from two human-loving breeds. We Love Doodles has helped me understand more about doodles, and if you have one like toy goldendoodles, you should definitely check it out.

Having said that, a dog’s interaction with kids is usually different, which could be because of their size. On top of that, my dog, being a lockdown puppy, is not as social as she should be. She is working on it. Hence, when kids started approaching her, I started learning more about how to help kids be safe around my dog and found a few valuable tips I will share with you.

1. Children Must Respect the Dog:

The kids should be taught certain behavior rules before they interact with a dog. A child may not understand that the dog is not going to react well to certain behavior that the child shows. Especially when a bunch of kids plays together with the dog, they tend to over-excite the canine or rough play with the dog, which is a big alarm. Dogs can understand your excitement and will showcase double excitement. While the canine may not wish to harm kids, kids may get injured by mistake if it is a large breed.

The main reason why you hear stories of dogs biting kids is that they do not know how to interact with them. Pulling a dog’s legs or ears like they are a doll is not appreciated by the animal. Teasing an animal is not going to go down well with them. They deserve much respect, and they have their limits. A few pets are more tolerant than others, but they may snap beyond a certain point if they’re hurt or feel violated.

This is why you should spot such behavior immediately and distance the kid away from the dog. If it is your neighbor’s kid, you should also inform their parents about their kid’s behavior towards dogs to ensure they do not do the same with some other dog that might injure the kid.

2. No Interruptions When the Dog Eats:

Dogs are highly food motivated, so it is advised not to approach them when consuming food. The owner may still do that, but you should never do it if it is not your dog. They feel threatened when someone tries to take their treats or meal bowl away and may attack the person if they are food aggressive.

You may see this behavior when they are chewing a bone as well because that is their natural instinct. A child may not understand this and disturb the dog in between meals. If you see the dog growl, you should interrupt it immediately and take the kids away from the dog. Also, teach the dog this is not an appropriate behavior.

3. Dogs Need Personal Space Away from Kids:

When your dog is surrounded by kids for a long time, they may start feeling overwhelmed and seek out a place to rest. When the dog retreats to its bed or under the table, it means kids are stressing it out, and it just does not feel comfortable around them anymore. You should tell the kids to just let the dog bed instead of disturbing its sleep or forcing it to play. If it is not their dog, then the dog may snap.

4. Let Sleeping Dogs Be:

A sleeping dog is not aware of people nearby at times and, when approached suddenly, may feel threatened and bite the person to protect itself. It is just like someone suddenly grabs you in the middle of your sleep. You may react as well. In the same way, a sleeping dog is no different and may react to this, injuring the kid.

5. Rough Play:

Kids should learn not to play aggressively with a dog. If they start pushing the animal, hitting them, or wrestling, the canine gets confused and may retaliate. Even while playing with a large dog, a gentle giant, precautions must be maintained.

Even if the dog does not attack the kid, it may lead to scratching, or the dog may just push the kid away, which may hurt the kid. Hence, kids should be taught not to play rough with dogs, which may lead to unintentional injuries.

The Bottom Line:

I have seen a lot of kids in my neighborhood enjoy playing with dogs, but there are always a few who do not understand what does playtime with a dog means and how dangerous it can get if they are not careful.

At the end of the day, your dog is an animal that has its own instincts. Kids can be extra playful or unpredictable around the dog, triggering your pet. You may trust your dog around the kid, but that does not mean you should leave the kids alone with the dog. Just stay around and supervise the playtime so that you know the kids respect your dog’s boundaries and the dog plays calmly with the kids.

You may often feel the dog tolerates the kids or has had enough and needs some break from them. It is better to separate the dog from the kids and ask them to come for a play session the next day. Controlling the interaction between a dog and kids and monitoring it continuously is the best way to create a safe play environment for both.

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