Raising dogs and children together!
Raising a dog is one thing but raising a child is another.
Raising both together? Now that’s a whole new adventure.
I often see cringeworthy videos of children and dogs together. By cringeworthy I mean: children using dogs as climbing frames and stepping stools, toddlers swinging from the dog's ears, babies using them as a prop up cushion.
I mean, if you don’t know a single thing about dogs then sure, it all looks cute. WRONG. Often the dogs in these videos look visibly uncomfortable and are often showing signs of that. Is it really worth the risk for a couple of likes?
There are a few main things that you should take into consideration when raising both at the same time and not only does that apply to children. Dogs need boundaries too.
Who came first, the child or the dog?
Now, I’m lucky enough to have experience from both ends with this one.
Jacob came into our home in 2016 when my family dog was aged 13.
Although our old girl was the most placid and laid back dog at the time. We still had to prepare her for the new little human that would be entering her home. That’s right it was HER HOME TOO!
New objects and smells can be strange to dogs so it’s important that you get them used to these things. It can be as simple as leaving the Moses basket around week prior to the arrival of your baby. Taking them on a few test walks with your new pram. Letting them smells all the new things you’re bringing into the home. Lots of new objects at once can be quite overwhelming for some dogs, take your time to introduce these things before the arrival of their new human sibling. That way they’ll have less to worry about once baby comes home.
In 2019 we brought Brodie home, now at the time my little boy was just 3 years old. I know, what was I thinking!? A three-nager AND a puppy, I must be crazy!?
Although my son had been around plenty of dogs beforehand, it was important to me that I explained the situation to him.
The same goes for children as it does for dogs. You’re bringing all these new strange objects into the home that they have possibly never seen before.
It was important to me that I explained what everything was and what they were for in the best way I could. Sometimes I felt like I may as well have been having a conversation with a dog. Is this all really making any sense to a three year old?
Change can be difficult for the both of them, so it’s important that you try your best to prepare before!
Choosing the right fit...
Now I’m aware you can’t choose your children! IMAGINE...
But you CAN choose the right dog to fit your family.
It’s important in any circumstance to weigh up all the options in regard to the dogs breed. Can you meet their needs? Is your energy level matching theirs? Do you have the time to put into them?
All these along with many others are extremely important!
Now, getting a dog is one thing but bringing a dog into a household with children is another. Children naturally take up a huge percentage of your day. Do you have that extra time to put into a high energy and demanding breed? Or do you need something a little less energetic that will happily slot in around your children?
You’ve got to think about both.
Children can naturally be unsure of dogs especially if they’ve had no experience with them before hand. The same goes for dogs. Is it wise to bring a big bouncy dog into your home with an uncertain child? Or would the sensible option be to go for something less full on and smaller?
Just because you like the look of a dog, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right choice for your family.
Setting boundaries for both is important to me. You want both your children and dog to be happy together. More importantly knowing what they can and can’t do with each other!
My main ones for my child are the following:
-Dogs are not toys,we treat them like we would our friend, with respect and kindness.
-We leave dogs alone when they sleep and eat, we don’t appreciate being disturbed with either of those and neither do dogs.
-Gentle hands, similar to the dogs aren’t toys rule. We one out gentle hands with dogs, we treat them like we would our friends.
I also like to set some boundaries for the dog too which are the following:
-Not all toys are yours, it was always important to me that he knew which toys were his to play with. Often with young children they will leave toys anywhere and everywhere, so it was important to me that he knew the difference between his toys and my children’s toys.
-Gentle paws and mouth, this was a big one for me as my little one was just 3 when we brought a new dog into our life. I didn’t want him being knocked over and frightened by a lovely puppy. Nor did I want nipping and snatching treats from his hands. So gentle playing and taking were important to me.
Everyone will have their own boundaries and preferences, but these were the few that definitely helped for us.
Getting them involved...
Building the relationship between them both is important! Not only does it leave no body out or feeling left behind. It can also be great for the future and just overall family life.
For us it was important that they both had a great bond. I started with getting my little boy to play games with Brodie so that he would associate him as fun! Kids can be quite overwhelming for dogs especially when they’re young as they’re loud and boisterous, same goes for puppies! I wanted them both to see each other as something positive rather than negative. From there we then added in some fun commands and treats!
This also helped up build a positive relationship between them both. Not only that it also helped with Brodie listening and taking commands from my son.
Best friends for life..
Fast forward 4 years and they are both the best of friends. They play together, they cuddle and most important of all, they enjoy each others company!
Just remember the next time you see those videos of kids climbing all over dogs, it’s not cute or funny, relationships should be positive between both. Growing up with a dog is a great pleasure. Teaching children about dogs and their boundaries is just as important as any other life lesson.