Updated: Sep 12
As a mom and dog owner, kid dog interactions are incredibly important to me. Nothing puts my hackles up quite like hearing "My dog's so great with kids! They can pull his hair, climb on him, pull his tail; and he won't do anything!" Until one day he does. And on that day generally two things happen, that dog takes a trip to the pound or gets put right to sleep. Very often this was no where near the dogs fault, but they're the one that will suffer for it. We all want to think our dog will never do it. But our dogs should never be put into a situation where it happening is even an option. That is up to the owner advocating for their dog, NOT the dog!
From the moment you add a member to your home (two or four legged) you must plan ahead. Where will the dog be when the kiddo is awake? Where are the two allowed to be together? If they do not get along, what are my plans? It is not fair to the dog or the child to just stick them together and expect that everything will be fine. For both of them this could lead to a dangerous situation! Not only could the dog hurt the child, the child could hurt the dog. Both are unacceptable and are avoidable.
So you brought a baby home to a dog you already had. Do not let there be resentment or possessiveness. Babies take alot of work, but you MUST still make time for your dog. Walk as a family, play fetch out in the yard; but don't neglect alone time with your dog as well. Let someone stay home with the kiddo while one person takes the dog to the park or for a car ride. People think its cute when their dog is protective of the baby, and from strangers this could be a positive thing. However take extreme caution and call a trainer if your dog seems unhappy with you being near the baby. This is NOT an ok behavior! You may find your dog seems ok with your child when they first come home, and then once they get mobile the dog develops fear. If you think of it from the dogs point of view you can understand why it would be scary. If you have any questions please don't hesitate even one day to call a trainer.
So you have an older kid and are adopting a dog; how should that go? They should not interact the first day your dog comes home if you don't know if they've been around kids. From there let your child sit quietly on the couch and your new dog approach at their comfort. Do not force an interaction. This may take a few days, that is fine. You do not want to push this interaction too quickly. You have the lifetime of this dog, no hurry! They should not be alone together unless your child has shown the responsibility of not teasing the dog or being too physical. A huge portion of the dog bites in this country are from the family dog, do not get into the thought that it can never happen to you. It is gut wrenching to get the call that a dog "randomly" bit the child in the house (it's almost never random) or on the flip side being a vet tech that has to help the family whose child hurt their pet.
Do not assume a dog will ever like children. Just like people, some love them and some are never comfortable. They are a living being and have their own preferences.
DO allow your new dog time to acclimate to your children without forcing the interaction
DONT let your child run wild with a new dog
DO hold your children accountable for their actions around the dog
DONT let your children pull ears, tails, feet, or hair even if the dog seems to allow it
DO keep making time for your dog, both as a family and one on one
DONT allow your dog to guard the child from the other family members
DO give your dog a place they can go that children cannot so they can "escape"
DONT leave children and pets alone until responsibility has been shown
DONT assume a dog will ever 100% like children
DO get to know signals in your dog that they are becoming uncomfortable so you can remove them from the situation
Safety is your responsibility, never take that lightly. It can be a matter of life and death. If you have any hesitation call a trainer who specializes in these interactions.
For the Dogs,