Teaching kids to be dog-savvy

Having pets and children, or perhaps children first and then pets for them, seems to be part of the natural order of life. We understand the benefits for children who grow up with cats and dogs, but as adults, we don’t always understand the role we play as parents and responsible pet owners when it comes to allowing dogs and children to share the same space.

Socialisation

When dogs grow up with small children, and if they are properly socialised as puppies, they normally don’t mind playing and being around small children. But dogs who have never been socialised, or have hardly ever engaged with small children, might be afraid of them and don’t know how to behave around them.

When small children run around and play, they get excited, and their high-pitched voices can literally hurt a dog’s ears. Unsocialised dogs might not have learnt how to handle the situation and may snap at the children out of frustration. As dogs get older, they might be less tolerant of children’s high energy levels, which can also cause them to react. And therefore, it is extremely important for every dog to be socialised at an early age.

Breeds

Unfortunately, not all dog breeds are ideal for children. Where breeds like Labrador Retrievers are very patient and tolerant around children, other breeds, like Chihuahuas and Chow Chows are not. Although they can be taught to tolerate children, it’s just not in their genetics. Chow Chows, for instance, don’t like strangers, and Chihuahuas are frail dogs. Small children can easily and unintentionally hurt these dogs. Therefore, it is important to consider the breed of the dog and his tolerance to small children before you allow them to share the same space.

To read the rest of this article, get the June 2022 edition of Animaltalk magazine, available now at retail stores, or order a digital or printed copy online at www.coolmags.co.za.

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