If you grew up with pets, you know that bond remains special. Dogs are loyal and man’s best friend. Learn more about the relationship between kids and dogs in this spectacular guest post from Pam Hodges. You may learn a new trick or two. 😉
I’ve been around dogs my entire life. For me, they’re a part of the family that I enjoy having around. That didn’t stop me from worrying about how our dogs would respond to a baby coming into the house. We did several things to prepare for the arrival of our first baby. As our son grew, there were several more things that we did to foster a positive relationship between our son and our dogs. I thought I’d share a few of the things we did to help their relationship.
The first and most important thing we did was always supervise interactions between the dogs and the baby (well, toddler now). Even though we have amazing dogs that I love and trust, I am not going to put them in a position where they might feel scared or threatened. Therefore, they are never left alone with the baby. If I must leave the room and they are in there together, I keep it short and use gates or a playpen to keep them separated. Typically, the dogs just lay there or follow me out of the room, while our son does his own thing.
Allow Them to Interact
I started by saying that we don’t leave the dogs unsupervised with the baby. I didn’t say that we don’t let them near him. They have been around our son since the very beginning. In fact, one of the first pictures taken after we got home was of our male dog looking into the bassinet. We encourage them to interact and play together whenever possible. Our son will even go get the dog toys and try to play with them on his own. He loves giving them hugs when we get home.
We supervise interactions so that we can put a stop to any negative interaction. This means watching our dogs and their body language carefully. If one of them is on edge, then we will intervene and create space between the dogs and our son. Our son is still easily excitable and learning how to be gentle with the dogs, so there are times when they’ve had enough and we help them get away.
Work on Gentle
We have been using the word “gentle” since our son first started interacting with the dogs. If he is being too rough or hitting them instead of petting them, then we will gently redirect him and show him how to be “gentle” with the dogs. His ability to be gentle has improved a lot as he gets older.
Involve Kids in the Care of the Dogs
Now that our son is getting a bit older, we’ve started including him in the care of the dogs. He will walk with me to the door to let them out and he loves watching them through the sliding glass door. He also helps me get treats for the dogs before we leave the house. I let him give a treat to the calmer of our two dogs while I give a treat to the other. It took a little practice but he has finally gotten the hang of giving the dogs a treat.
We added our dogs to the family while I was pregnant with our son. I was hesitant at first because I know how much work a dog can be but I don’t regret the decision for a second. The dogs have been a wonderful addition to our family and I’m so glad that my son will grow up with dogs in his life. What about you? Do you have dogs at home? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Pam is the girl with too many ideas. After seven years of teaching, she’s taking a break to pursue her writing passions while her son is young. She’s the voice behind Hodge Podge Moments, a blog that helps busy mamas simplify their lives so that they can enjoy the little moments that life has to offer. She also writes with her husband at The Coastie Couple, where they share their military adventures from coast to coast.