Childhood pets always have a special place in our hearts. And your child and dog could forge a lifelong friendship.
Here are our hints to help your new fur-baby and tiny humans get off on the right paw.
Set up for success
Adopt the type of pet that would suit your home and lifestyle. Outgoing, friendly dogs are usually better suited to families with kids.
Always supervise when your fur-baby and kids are spending time together. That way, you can keep everyone safe.
When you can't actively supervise, separate your kids and pets. Baby gates are a great way to separate rooms.
Learn dog body language
Understanding your dog's body language is vital to reading their warning signs.
Don't punish your dog
Never punish your dog for warning you that they're unhappy. Instead, find out what's making them uncomfortable and move them away.
Tips to teach your little human
- Stay clam: encourage your child to always be calm, quiet and gentle around your dog
- Body language matters: remind your child not to stare at your dog
- Let your dog set the pace of the relationship: let the dog ask for pats rather than your child chasing the dog
- Keep your hands away from your dog's mouth: if your pet has an item that you'd like, offer them a trade rather than taking it
- Keep your face away from your dog's face: like hugging, being face-to-face with your dog can be stressful for your pet
- Listen to your dog: teach your kids about your dog's body language and how your fur-baby will ask for pats, to play or to be left alone
- Pat gently: when they're interacting with each other, have your child sit quietly next to your dog and gently stroke their back and side with an open hand
- Leave your dog alone while they're eating or sleeping: make sure your kids aren't around your dog when they're eating or sleeping
- Use a low, calm voice: dogs have much better hearing than we do, so loud screaming and yelling can be very stressful
Fun family-friendly activities
- Go for a walk as a family
- Let your child help you train your new dog
- Play fun games together:
- Name Game: call your dog's name and reward them with a treat when they respond
- Hide-and-seek: hide from your dog, then call them and see how long it takes them to find you
- Hide-and-seek with toys: hide a toy behind or under something and encourage your dog to search it out
- Fetch: throw a toy or ball away from your dog and encourage them to get the item and bring it back by rewarding them with a treat when they do
- Food hunt: scatter dog biscuits around the backyard (especially on grass) and let the dog find them