The 8 golden rules for an idyllic child-dog relationship

Who wouldn’t dream of it? A dog and a baby to be with your family. The kid shared all his secrets with the dog and they were together forever. The two found a lifelong friendship. Who doesn’t find these photos of a cute dog sleeping in the bed of an irresistibly cute child? This ideal image is always the goal of most parents. But the child -dog relationship becomes more complicated than that. In my canine behavioral therapy practice, I have received countless files on my desk from dogs that apparently ‘out of the blue’ have bitten the child or from parents who constantly shout ‘no’ because the child runs after the dog all day. Proof that the child and dog relationship is not always smooth. So how do you make sure the child and dog relationship is smooth? These 8 golden rules are important.

Rule 1: Learn your dog’s body language “I’m Enough”

A bite rarely happens ‘unexpectedly’. Often the dog has already given so many discreet signals that he no longer likes it. Make sure not only you, but your child, are aware of these signals.

Rule 2: Possession is possession, possession is art

Teach the child and the dog to never take anything from each other, even if the dog has your child’s favorite toy in his mouth. This requires not only a healthy dose of obedience training with the dog (such as learning a “loose” non-confrontational command), but also a healthy dose of repetition with children: “You DON’T take anything out of a dog’s mouth. If he steals something, you ask mom or dad to return it.”

Rule #3: Safe Harbor

Agree with your children where they will leave the dog alone at all times (for example, its box, the basket). A counsel: ask them to make their own cardboard sign with the inscription “no entry” and mark the no-entry zone through a visual means, such as a red line on the ground around the shelter.

Rule #4: Who is the boss?

Be careful that children never discipline the dog itself. This is the role of moms and dads. Interactions stop immediately when a child forces the dog to do something (e.g., dress up)

Rule n ° 5: free choice

Give the dog an option to walk easily when he is old enough. This means that children should not turn on the dog, chase it under the table and never lift it. Free choice also means you can’t force the dog to stay with the child longer than he or she would like (no, even for a cute picture). Teach children to ask the dog first if he wants to.

To do this, use the convenient mnemonic device.

  1. Clap your legs or hands to make the dog call to you. Will he not come to you? So leave him.
  2. Take care of the dog for 3 seconds
  3. Stop after 3 seconds and observe the dog’s behavior. Will the dog leave? That’s why she didn’t want him to get pregnant. Is he looking at you, approaching you, or pushing his hip or leg? So he wants more!

Rule 6: Rest

If the dog is in the room, there is no wild behavior or shouting. Children now live with an animal and it requires some basic rules and common sense. It is forbidden to drive the animal mad. The rule of calm also applies to the dog: around children, there is no wild behavior, so there is no jumping or running after them. There are many quiet games for kids and dogs. Think especially about finding or remembering games.

Rule #7: Management is necessary but not enough

Coping style

Never leave a child alone with their dog if you do not rely on the child or dog’s coping mechanism. Suppose the dog stole something from the child. How do you think your child will react? Will he scream? Did he blame the dog? Or will he stay calm and go to pick you up? Let’s say the child is scared of the dog. Will he flee, or will he face him? We cannot impose a specific age. A 14-year-old is sometimes not left alone with the dog, while some 9-year-olds can do it perfectly. It all depends on the behavior of the child and the dog. ¹Thanks to Cindy van Dorst from Dierbare Ontmoetingen for creating this important concept.

Always be on the lookout, without exception! Not even for a “moment”.

If you suspect that the child and/or dog are not (yet) reacting well enough to difficult times, then you need to keep an eye on them. There are no exceptions. Any hour. Will you go to the bathroom? Then take the dog into the hallway and close the door to the living room (where the child is).

Monitoring ON

Did you know that most dog bites happen when the parent is within two meters of the dog? Being in the same room doesn’t mean everything is fine. Monitoring is not about watching the dog from your phone sometimes. This means being very careful that you get ahead of difficult situations. If you don’t have the time or energy for it (and let’s be honest, who has it 24/7?), Then the baby and dog need to be PHYSICALLY separated (think the baby gate).

Rule 8: Intervene effectively!

Parents often contact us because they don’t know:

  • When they need to intervene
  • How they should intervene

When to intervene:

  • When you see any signs of stress or stress in your dog
  • If you notice your dog’s avoidance behavior (for example, the dog will try to run away or turn away if the child wants to be with)
  • If you see a difficult situation coming up. What are these conditions?
  • The excitement increased.

There was something they both wanted to grasp

The child cannot be kept away from a dog that eats or sleeps for short: anything that can lead to possession, pain, anger or fear aggression

How to intervene:

At the right time! Not after. With respect: ask the child why he or she did it (without judging)

Involve the child if possible: Ask the child to help you avoid these situations in the future. Ask the child for ideas about it.

Have the child make a craft to remind them of the deal you made (for example, the prohibition sign around the basket)

Give the child an alternative: If the child dies to feed the dog, have them do it individually, in a search game (for example, the child will throw pieces in the garden when the dog is sitting).

If the child likes to play wild with the dog, buy a very large/long leash that he can safely release the steam.

If the child is dying to brush his dog, ask him to show you how to do it with a stuffed dog, while you imitate him in a real dog. etc. Consider a safe alternative to any unwanted interaction between your child and your dog. The examples I have given above are not safe for all puppy-dog pairs. Think of something that will suit your dog and your child.

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