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Dogs and Children 

Bringing a baby into the home;

It is very exciting to bring a new baby into your home, but introducing them to the already much loved family dog can be very daunting. There are a few steps you can take before you introduce your new addition that should make the experience a lot easier for you and your dog:

  • Having a well trained dog to start with will make life a lot easier. It will help if you dog knows not to jump up, and understands some basic commands such as sit, stay and no.
  • Make sure that your dog is up to date with all its vaccinations, worming and flea treatments. Worms can be passed on and can be very harmful especially for very young children.
  • When you buy prams, cots and playpens leave them in sight of your dog to desensitise him to them. Allow him to approach and sniff them. It is very important that these items do not become a play thing for your dog. He must understand that they are not his.
  • Try to imagine what your dogs routine will be like with a baby in the house, and try to mimic it. This way you can change his routine gradually rather than everything changing suddenly.
  • Your dog will have missed you while you have been in hospital, so greet your dog before you introduce the baby. Allow dad to follow you in with the baby. Reward your dog for greeting the baby calmly, but do not shout at him if he gets it wrong.
  • You will be very busy with your new addition but do not neglect your dog. Make time to walk him. He may be used to having your attention most of the time so keep him entertained with interactive toys like Kongs.
  • Do not leave your baby unattended with your dog under any circumstances.

Introducing a dog to your family

  • Consider whether a dog is right for your family. If you have very young children it may be worth waiting until they are older so you can dedicate more time to a dog.
  • Think carefully before picking your dog, some breeds have a natural affinity for children, such as Labradors. Size is important. Large breeds could knock over young children, but very small dogs can be injured by children possibly leading to a bite. It is also a good idea to rule out breeds with high exercise requirements and be realistic with the amount of time you have.
  • Teach your children how to behave around dogs. When they first meet the new dog or puppy allow the dog to approach them at its own pace. 
  • Children need to learn how to play with children, do not be too rough as this could encourage aggressive behaviour. Do not get your face to close to theirs as they find this threatening. Any contact they have with their dog should be calm and gentle.
  • Your children should let the dog come to them when it wants to play or be given attention. If the dog is sleeping then your children should learn to give it some space. 

There is much to think about when it comes to getting a dog and it can seem  daunting. However dogs can teach children valuable lessons about responsibility, and they make fantastic friends.

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