For children, a dog is more than just an animal friend: having one’s own pet promotes tolerance, a sense of responsibility and the understanding of other living beings as well as inner balance, a sense of duty, independence and joie de vivre. The prerequisite for this is that the dog and child have respect for each other and tolerate mutual boundaries. It is the responsibility of adults to convey this and to prevent possible dangerous situations from arising in the first place.
The most important rule for parents with small children is: never leave offspring and dog alone! This also applies if you are sure that the dog recognized and accepted the child as a small person. If the claw hits the eye or the child hits their head because the dog has run over them out of sheer enthusiasm, you will not really be comforted.
It is also a mistake to believe that children automatically enjoy some kind of “puppy protection”. Lots of dogs actually put up with a lot of children, but at some point even the most good-natured animal suffices. Pulling, kicking or otherwise pestering the dog by the tail or ears has nothing to do with “playing”, but is cruelty to animals! Unfortunately, children under the age of 7 do not yet have a correspondingly pronounced awareness of wrongdoing, which is why explanations and requests are usually not fruitful. Always keep an eye on both of them and protect not only the child but also the dog from unwanted attacks!
A popular tip is to make it clear to the dog that he is below the child in the hierarchy. Basically a great idea, but unfortunately rarely well implemented. Many parents only notice when they come home with the baby that their dog was previously on the couch and spent the night in the bedroom and that they no longer want it. Prohibitions follow, the dog immediately links them to the baby’s arrival, and jealousy could result. So please think about possible changes in everyday dog life and implement the rules before the child is there! You clarify the hierarchy differently: First push the stroller through the door before the dog is allowed through. Feed the child first, then the dog. Invite visitors to greet the child and then pet the dog. In this way, the dog learns quickly and stress-free where his place in this family is.
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