How to Socialise Your Dog with Kids
There are few better things than the love and friendship that can develop between children and dogs. Getting your dog used to being around children is an essential step in their development and is best started when they’re young. For puppies, starting before the puppy is 14 months old is essential to their continued socialization.
In most cases, it’s an easy process that requires knowing a few important basics on dog socialization to help ensure a positive experience for everyone and foster a strong relationship between the two.
Form Positive Associations
When socializing a new dog with children, it’s ok to start small. Have the child and dog in close proximity and try to form positive associations. It’s important to have an adult manage the interaction, as well. As the dog becomes comfortable around children, build on those positive associations with a treat, or a game. Anything that will let your dog know that he’s making a new friend and associate children with feelings of positivity is encouraged.
Assess Your Dog’s Mood
Dogs have moods just like people do and before introducing them to a baby or children it’s best to evaluate their state of mind. Do they seem anxious or overly excited? (Ears held tightly against the head, lip-licking, excessive panting and a tightly closed mouth can all be signs of anxiety.) If so, it may not be the best time to introduce them to a new (and potentially stressful) situation. Try again later when he’s more relaxed and you’re likely to have better results.
The same goes for kids. If a child is acting rowdy, loud or even fearful, it could make your dog nervous. Since playing with children should always be a positive experience, if they seem uncomfortable, end the interaction and move on to something your dog will find more enjoyable.
Take it Slow
Encourage kids to approach your dog calmly and slowly. Even the gentlest and most patient dog can be startled by loud noises or sudden movements, especially if he’s unfamiliar with children. If this is the first time your dog is meeting children, you may want to keep the meeting short so they do not get overwhelmed.
Meet on Neutral Ground
To limit the potential for territorial behavior, try introducing your dog to children at a meeting place that is not your house or yard at first. Chances are that your dog will be more relaxed.
Dogs can sense if you’re stressed. While you should keep a close eye on your dog as he’s meeting children for the first time, if you seem tense about their interaction with children, he’ll pick up on cues like body language or voice modulation and may sense that something is wrong. Remember, this should be a fun and positive experience for all involved, including you.
Socializing your dog with kids may take some time and patience, but it’s well worth the effort and will make them a more well-rounded dog.
Socializing your dog is a great way to help them grow, and so is finding a healthy dog food with all the nutrition they need for lifelong health. A personalized Just Right blend that’s 100% complete and balanced is a great nutritional start for any dog.