If a family decides to take in a dog, it often does the same for the children. Children usually want to have a pet at some point, that’s almost a natural law;) Whether hamster, rabbit, mouse, rat, cat or dog – something furry is needed. It would be interesting to investigate why this is so. I could imagine that the reasons can be very different. For me, of course, the desire for a dog also came up in early childhood, because I always thought dogs were great, my girlfriend also had one and such a journeyman who would support me emotionally in the struggle of growing up and feeling unintelligible – that would be been great. But unfortunately – or luckily for the dog? – I was not granted that.
So a dog, possibly a puppy, comes into the house, and now the dog and children should live harmoniously with each other, become pretty best friends, inseparable and go on adventures together. A bit like the 5 friends. Or Lassie.
And maybe in many cases it works the same way. But I don’t know, in many cases. Parents sometimes have strange ideas about how dogs and (small) children live together.
So a former customer once asked me what she could do so that her three-year-old son would become the caregiver of the puppy because she didn’t feel like it herself. The puppy was referred after a few weeks because he did not meet expectations: he constantly pinched the son in his hands and arms while playing, he peed in the apartment, he bit shoes – he was just not the nice soft toy with a bit Life of its own that only moved when asked to do so.
The parents are responsible – always!
Unfortunately, parents are often not aware that they are responsible for the animal. And the smaller the child, the safer it is. Of course, children are fired up at the beginning and promise death and the devil to help with the unpleasant tasks. But children are children. And so the new toy very often loses interest. And you can’t blame them either. They are far too young to take responsibility and to be aware of the scope of all duties.
So parents have responsibility for the animal. But not only that! You are also responsible for managing and monitoring the interaction between child and animal. And from there it often becomes really difficult – usually for the animal. Maybe because many adults naturally focus on the children, but not on the dog. They don’t even notice when a dog is mistreated. They don’t see it or they think that “he must be able to do it”. After all, the dog has the task of literally walking along without any effort, because there is no time for the child-rearing child anyway – and to function.
The fact that a dog can have a rather idiosyncratic interior, that, depending on the situation, it can have difficulties with certain situations and that it requires a time-consuming upbringing so that family harmony can set in permanently – many people are actually not aware of this.
Children must learn to treat animals with respect
When I partially see how children deal with their “best friend” without parents intervening, the hair on the back of my neck is raised. But of course the children cannot be blamed, they don’t know better, they have to learn it first! From responsible parents!
The playing behavior of children and dogs is very different, as are the needs of children and dogs. Generally speaking, children are loud, hectic and often shrill. They run, bounce, screech, howl and behave spontaneously and incalculably. These are the qualities that at least sometimes upset a reactive dog: his level of arousal will shoot up, and it is quite possible that he will start to rush or jump up, that he will start barking excitedly or even exuberantly snap. If there are no common rules in such cases, the child-dog relationship will be very difficult.
Of course, a healthy dog can learn to put up with the soberly little dog-friendly properties of children. Of course, it would be an advantage here that he grew up in a household where children lived from birth. So if I had small children and wanted to buy a dog, I would definitely only choose a dog that already had contact with children as a baby. And positive! Nevertheless, this is no guarantee that the dog will get along well with children later.
Keep stress down for dogs
Dogs in households with small children naturally have a lot to endure. Unfortunately, this is often not noticed. It starts with the fact that the actions of children very often do not give the dog anywhere near the sleep and rest that it needs to grow into a chilled dog. A puppy should sleep and rest for 20 to 22 hours, an adult dog for up to 18 hours. If parents do not pay attention, it quickly happens that the children disturb the dog in its resting phases. However, a dog that does not get enough rest in the long run often develops into an unbalanced dog whose level of arousal never really goes down. And a dog that is permanently at a high level of arousal will not become an easily tradable dog and can even grow into a danger.
Parents have an obligation to recognize that the dog is not just a beautiful member of the family, but as such is also taken seriously
becomes. Like a child, a dog needs attention, time, and patience to teach it things. If this time is not spent, something will get out of hand very quickly.
Rules for everyone prevent misunderstandings
Parents should set up rules, all of which must be followed without any ifs and buts to ensure the needs of the animal and the safety of the child. Only if these rules are followed does the dog have the chance to become mentally strengthened and to become a relaxed dog, and this is the only way to avoid dangerous accidents.
Children should be taught from the beginning that animals should also be treated with respect and that animals as well as people have emotions that can be both positive and negative in nature. An animal is not a soft toy that can be carried, tugged and shaken around. An animal has needs, likes and dislikes like we humans do. And above all, each animal has its own character. And while there are also many dogs that can bear the unpleasant without complaint, there are also as many dogs that do not. However, if a dog defends itself and hits the child, the damage is usually quickly quite large and instead of thinking about what could have gone wrong, these dogs are given up because they have bitten “without warning” and are now called ” dangerous “and” unpredictable “. In most cases, of course, this is an avoidable, self-inflicted situation due to a lack of caution, indifference, negligence and misjudgment. In most cases, the dog has tried to communicate long before that something is uncomfortable, that it feels uncomfortable or under pressure. Unfortunately, these friendly signals, which for example can start with a head turn, are not noticed. As soon as the dog becomes more massive, there is of course an intervention or the dog gets the distance he wants. The dog learns that he will only be understood when he “speaks” more clearly, and so he will further solidify his promising strategy – if you do not make the appropriate simple changes at the latest.
Absolute NO GOs:
Rules are extremely important if you want to avoid escalations and get close to the dream of “the best buddy of the child”. So it would be very desirable that children should NEVER do the following:
- be unattended with the dog in the room
- go for a walk alone with the dog
- disturb the dog when eating
- Take away food or toys from the dog
- disturb the dog while sleeping / resting
- take the dog on your arm without being asked and as you please
- disturb the dog in the basket or another retreat
- sit or lie on the dog
- pet the dog against his will
- hug the dog closely
- stare into the dog’s eyes
- bend over the dog
- pull the dog’s ears or tail
- Grind the dog on a leash
- press or restrict the dog in any way
Those who implement such rules kill two birds with one stone: the dog has the chance to feel safe and secure even in a busy children’s household, there is no need for him to develop undesirable behaviors that would endanger the children.
The children learn for their lives to respect other living beings and to deal with them in a way that they would wish for themselves. As parents, we also don’t watch – I hope – how our child hits someone else’s head with a shovel. So a child should learn that it doesn’t matter whether it’s another child or an animal.
And maybe this way, dog and child actually become the pretty best friends we dream of in our ideal.