Kids and Dogs. They go together so easily and yet there are so many things to consider when bringing them together. We (the Bright Family) have a new puppy. It's been 14 years since we had a puppy in our house and frankly, its exhausting. Just like when we brought that new baby home, we were forced to look around at our home and figure out what trouble could this adorable little face get into. Cords, bottle caps, dropped food, gaps in the fence, access to cleaning supplies and what seemed like an endless list of things that could hurt that sweet little puppy. While we work to make our space safe for our little one, we also realize the importance of her getting out of her comfort place and meeting new people and new dogs daily. So she goes to day care a few days a week and we go for walks daily. Since we live by a park, it's easy to combine the "meet new people and take a walk" into one very fun activity. Socializing a puppy is not only a fun thing to do, it's extremely important. Having your dog meet all sorts of people is a great way to make them a well rounded dog.
Educating children who meet your dog how to do it properly is also your job as a dog owner! It can be frowned upon to correct a strangers child, but when it comes to my dog, I will correct away! We attended the Joliet Slammers game with our 4 month old puppy, Bexley, and she did amazing. The noises were loud, there were a lot of people and many kids. The kids who own dogs (or I assume have access to dogs) approached, asked if they could pet her, then engaged her- much to her delight! The kids who don't have access to a dog,(again my assumption), rushed up to her, thrust their hands in her face, petted her roughly, stepped on her tail, and screamed (a shrill nightmare of a scream) in her face to which our perfect little pup did nothing. But that got me thinking - what if she wasn't a perfect little pup - but a 40-75 pound dog who didn't like any of those things and let the kid know it? How you ask? By biting, striking snapping or growling - all of which the dog would have been blamed and possibly punished for. We usually look at situation the dog is in, and adjust and of course do not bring your dog to an event that they can't handle-that is your responsibility as a pet owner, but at the same time I believe that kids should know how to behave around an animal! Any animal! I do feel like parents are partially responsible to teach their kids how to approach a dog and the warning signs that a dog isn't happy - BUT and that is a big BUT - we as pet owners share that responsibility and should help out the parents (it takes a village, right). So if you are out walking your dog consider doing it where kids might approach - and teach them the right way to say hi! The nice way to greet, and how to tell if the dog isn't happy about the interaction. If your dog isn't approachable, clearly don't take them somewhere that they will be approached!
Some crazy things to consider - If a child approaches your dog without a parent, ask if the parent is with them and tell them to ask mom or dad if it's okay to pet the dog.
If a child runs at your dog to pet them, step in front of your dog and shorten your leash - do not put your dog in the position to have to stop someone running at them.
NEVER, EVER, NEVER use a retractable leash! EVER. Your dog should never be more than 4-6 feet (average leash length) away from you at any time! If your dog is still skittish on a leash and you don't have perfect recall (comes right back when you call them) do not tie things to the end of your leash - like poop bags or portable water bowl - that hitting the ground if your dog gets away can scare your dog even more!
Need more tips and trick - watch our facebook page and our website for leash walking workshops, Kids meeting dog sessions and more! Thanks for reading and thanks for letting us take care of #Yourslikeours!