4 Tips on Introducing Dogs and Kids
If you have a young child at home, it can be intimidating to bring a dog home. Thankfully, there are things you can do both before and after you bring your dog home to make the process a bit easier.
1. Start with smaller, easier to take care of animals.
It took 22 years for my family to get a dog. But for as long as I can remember, I always had some sort of pet. Guinea pig, hamster, fish, we had them all. Getting a smaller animal, like a Guinea pig, can introduce your child to the idea of taking care of an animal. They don’t require nearly as much constant attention, and they are much smaller and way less intimidating. Introduce your child to a smaller furry friend to get them used to the idea of a dog.
If you have friends that have dogs, see if they would be willing to let your child meet their dog. Let them play with the dog and get them used to the idea of seeing a dog. Sometimes children can be afraid of dogs, especially larger, louder dogs. My dog, Lexi, is the loudest dog in the world, but she’s completely harmless. Introducing a child to dogs before you bring them home is a good way to make them more comfortable.
3. Teach your child the difference between a person and a dog.
The first thing children need to know: dogs aren’t people. They have certain animal instincts and require a more conscientious respect for personal space. Teach your child that you can’t just go up to a dog from behind and hug them. Explain that this can scare the dog and could cause them to lash out. Teach your child that they can’t take a dog’s food when they are eating. Explain that dogs are very protective of their food and any object they perceive to be theirs (like their dog toys), and that taking that from them could anger them and upset them. Another important thing to teach a child is how to approach dogs. Teach them that they should always hold out their hand, fingers down, and let a dog sniff them first. Dogs need to sniff you so they can learn more about you. A final thing would be teaching your child to pet dogs carefully; don’t be too rough on them. Dogs are more sensitive than people and require delicacy.
4. Give your child small responsibilities to start with.
Getting a dog is a great opportunity to teach your child some responsibility. Start with small tasks, like changing the water bowl. Eventually, you can work up to more complicated tasks like taking the dog for a walk, or picking up after the dog when they go to the bathroom.
Have you ever brought a dog home with a child in the house? How did you prepare? Let us know in the comments!