Teaching your children to love, respect and appreciate animals is one of the best lessons they can learn. Compassion, after all, is a wonderful virtue. If your child is brought up to respect animals, they’ll most likely respect people too. One of the ways you can teach them this invaluable lesson, provided that you’re in the right position to do so, is by adopting a dog. Dogs are lovable, social animals who are great for kids. However, if you’re thinking of welcoming a pooch into your home, it’s vital to set a few ground rules to ensure both your child and your dog stay safe. Here are 10 things you shouldn’t let your child do to your dog.
10 Never Let Your Child Hit Your Dog
Even if your dog misbehaves, violence is never the answer. That means, no hitting! You need to make sure your child knows that as well. Teaching specific cues like "leave it," practicing proper management (ex. not leaving food where the dog can reach it), and rewarding the dog for wanted behaviors is a much better way of dealing with problem behaviors. If you're unsure about how to train your dog, look up a reward-based trainer in your area. Teaching your child to not hit a dog will help communicate that violence isn't ever acceptable, and will also prevent a potentially dangerous situation from ensuing.
9 Never Let Your Child Ride Your Dog
No matter how small your child may be, no doggy rides! A dog isn’t meant to be ridden. Not only could it cause an injury to both your dog and your child but it also shows your youngster that animals serve us and that certainly isn’t right. Animals do not serve us. We must appreciate, love and respect them – not exploit them.
8 Never Let Your Child Get Up In Your Dog's Face
Many children adore their furry friends and love smothering them with kisses. While it’s wonderful that they’re showing an abundance of love and affection, getting too close to a dog’s face will only aggravate them. Let’s see things from their perspective for a minute. If someone was constantly pressing their face up against yours, wouldn’t it bug you? Well, that’s how it feels for a dog too. No dog likes being smothered and if your child annoys them too much, your dog might bite. All dogs are capable of biting. So give them some space. Give them lots of love and attention but don’t get too close to the point that you’re just smothering him. Teach your kid other appropriate modes of affection like gentle strokes along the dog's body.
7 Never Let Your Child Feed Unapproved Treats To Your Dog
While feeding treats is a great way for your child and your dog to bond, you should never encourage your child to feed the dog things from their plate. Lots of things like chocolate and grapes, especially large amounts, can be dangerous for your dog. Chocolate and grapes are toxic to dogs, and can bring on seizures, internal bleeding, muscle tremors or even a heart attack. So stay alert! Instead, you can encourage your child to give your dog a treat from a designated treat jar. Just make sure that your child can't reach for the treat jar on their own!
6 Never Let Your Child Pick Up Your Dog Unsupervised
Kids often insist on picking up their dog, like their doll. Regardless of the dog’s size, your child, especially if he or she is young, shouldn’t pick up a dog without supervision. Otherwise, your pooch could get dropped and consequently injured. Instead of allowing your child to pick up your dog, alternately suggest that they sit on the ground with the dog also lying down.
5 Never Let Your Child Tease Your Dog
Teasing and taunting a dog with rough play, or a game of keep-away, can only spell disaster. Naturally, kids want to interact with their dog but to avoid possible bites or unintentional injury to both your child and the family dog, you mustn’t let your youngster tease or taunt him. Teasing a dog can make a dog overly excited, or in some cases, it can even upset them. Instead, you can get your child involved in dog training (having them repeat already known commands and then having them reward the dog for performing them), or in other appropriate forms of play like a game of fetch.
4 Never Let Your Child Take Your Dog On An Unsupervised Walk
While it’s great to give your child the responsibility to take the family dog out for a walk, it can also be unsafe. When dogs are walked, they need to be handled properly and most kids can’t do that. Plus, if they encountered another dog who happens to be off leash, conflict could arise. The last thing you want is your child in the middle of a dog attack. By all means, let your child hold the leash but make sure you’re right by their side, supervising.
3 Never Let Your Child Bother Your Dog While They're Eating
Just like you wouldn’t want someone’s hands in your meal or near you whilst you’re eating, dogs don’t want it either. Dogs want to eat in peace. For that reason, make sure your child doesn’t bother him during his meal. Bothering a dog while they are trying to eat can very easily lead to a bite.
2 Never Let Your Child Scream At/Around Your Dog
Dogs are incredibly sound-sensitive so when a child’s screaming irritates you, imagine its effect on your dog. Screaming and shouting can frazzle your dog and leave him feeling nervous and distressed. It can also scare some sensitive dogs – the last thing you would want is for your dog to be distrustful of your child.
1 Never Let Your Child Steal Your Dog's Toys
It is a very natural and common behavior for dogs to protect their most prized possessions, whether it be toys or food. Kids should be taught to leave the family dog’s toys alone. Always supervise your child when she is interacting with the dog, and only bring out your dog's toys when the dog can play with them in peace. You can choose to teach your child appropriate play with your dog by teaching them how to play fetch, or hide and seek, but never, ever, encourage them to take toys straight out of the dog's mouth or bed!