Pets teach children life’s valuable lessons of loving, being responsible, caring, sharing, etc. Safely nurture a bond in which both of them love and respect each other.
Generally, breeds like Labradors, Golden Retriever, Beagle, German Shepherds, mixed breed dogs, etc are recommended for homes with children. But there’s no thumb rule. Each pooch is an individual. While they will inherit the basic breed characteristics, but the way they behave and their temperament depends a lot on their upbringing and lifestyle.
Of course, the size of the dog does matter for the child. And so does the age. A puppy and an infant together will be a lot of work on your hands. An older dog will be more understanding for you when you have infants to take care of.
Managing infants and pets
There are many families where a pet enjoys the ‘only child’ status till an infant in born. A lot of people think of finding a new home for their pet as they think the pet may become jealous and aggressive, thinking that the infant is a threat to his status. Which is definitely not so.
In such a case, the preparations have to start before the kid is born. Gradually get the pet used to baby stuff around. Play recordings of baby cries and noises so that your pet gets used to it. Teach him basic obedience commands.
Once the child is born and you bring him home, let a relative or friend take care of the child, while you spend a little time with your pooch. Bring him near the baby and then give him treats. If he does not want to come near the baby, do not force him. Let him take his own time. Within your family, divide your responsibilities.
When the pup is the new entrant
Most children look forward to the homecoming of a pup. But, before you bring home a pup, think if you have enough time to manage. Once you have decided to bring home a pup, discuss it with your child. Advice him on the way to handle the pup. Make him understand that the puppy is not a toy and hence needs proper handling and care. Bring him a stuffed toy shaped like a dog and let him cuddle it. Teach him how to approach him and play with him. Tell him never to pull his tail or put his fingers in his eyes, mouth or nose.
Always keep the child and pup under supervision. Keep playtimes short. Do not let the child shout or scream near the puppy. Depending on the age of the child, assign duties to take care of the pup. To foster a beautiful relationship, teach your child to love the puppy in the same way you love your child.
Caring for your pooch
Here are a few tips to be followed to keep your family together.
- Your focus and intention (love for your dog), do not ever waiver from the same.
- Keep your canine baby clean, groomed and brushed.
- Divide responsibilities, do not ignore your canine baby.
- Rest of the family to pitch in to keep your K9 baby’s feeling wanted.
- If required, speak to a professional trainer.
- Once your baby starts growing–crawling/walking, teach him to be gentle.
- Give your dog the space he deserves, if he is feeling upset or threatened, take him to another place.
- Keep his bed clean. Air them regularly in sun to keep them germ-free.
- Keep his surroundings clean.
- Keep your pooch free from ticks and fleas.
- In case of housebreaking, clean the area immediately. Keep your child away from that area until it is clean.
- Keep his food bowl and water bowl clean. Dispose off any leftover food.
- Basic obedience training is a must for a household with children.
- Never encourage your dog to play aggressive games.
- Always keep your pet and child under supervision.
- Spend some quality time with your pet – just you and him. Pamper and be patient as this is a big change for him too.
- Take him for regular veterinary check-ups which can help in identifying disease at an early stage.
- Spay/neuter your pet to avoid aggressive behaviour.
If these points are kept in mind, your house will be a haven for both your child and your pooch. Let the child and the pet nurture a bond of lifetime – they will become friends in no time. Let them grow together…basking in each other’s love and care.