Children and Dog

Nurturing a bond of love…

A pet pooch can be your child’s best friend but compassion and respect for household pets is an important personality trait that is best inculcated during the early years of life. Here’s how to develop the intangible bond of love between your kid and pooch.

Although most children have a natural affinity towards nature and animals, they can unknowingly hurt an

Children and Dog

Shuchi Kalra

animal out of enthusiasm or ignorance. Moreover, fear and lack of familiarity can fling all the love and compassion out of the window. By teaching children to respect dogs as well as other animals, we are doing our bit to raise a sensitive generation that is connected to nature—this eventually translates into fewer incidents of animal cruelty and abuse.

Bring home a pet: Keeping a household pet is by far the best way to bring your child closer to the animal world but caring for one is not every one’s cup of tea. If the prospect of a dog or a cat seems too daunting for now, consider smaller pets like goldfish, hamsters and guinea pigs who are relatively less demanding in terms of feeding, space and care. A child will learn a lot about animals by observing the mannerism of a pet and will gradually identify the animal as a member of the family.

Let kids share the responsibility: Depending on your child’s age and abilities, assign different care-taking responsibilities. Younger kids could take up simple tasks like putting the dog food in the bowl, arranging the dog’s bedding and playing outdoor games with the pooch while older kids should be able to handle bathing, feeding, walking and training the dog.

Playing with a neighbour pet dog: If you don’t happen to have a dog in the house, may be a neighbour’s affectionate dog can make a good playmate for your child. Teach your children to always ask the pet parent before playing with a pet dog as some dogs do not appreciate juvenile company. Always supervise the interaction.

Teaching good manners: Teach children not to touch dogs during meal-times or when they are sleeping. Show your kid the correct way to pet a dog without touching trouble spots like the tail and the eyes. Children should also be told that animals feel pain and also have feelings.

Say ‘no’ to wrong behaviour: If you find a child teasing a dog, correct him. Dogs usually don’t retaliate unless they are threatened or driven off the edge. Let your kids know that behaving badly with animals is not acceptable and that an animal’s feelings are no different from that of a human being. Children should be taught to gently caress the animal and offering treats in order to establish the trust.

Develop love and compassion: When you talk to your child about dogs, avoid referring to them as “it”. Instead, refer to the pooch by name or use pronouns like “he” or “she”. This helps kids associate them with living beings who undergo pain and trauma just like humans. Once children identify a pooch as a “person” rather than an inanimate object, they are more likely to respect their feelings. For example, try “Coco is too tired to play right now” instead of “Don’t play with the dog. It will bite you!” Let your voice reflect love and compassion for animals if you would like your children to develop the same values.

Watch dog-friendly movies: Introduce your child to stories and books that talk about beautiful relationship between humans and dogs. Several movies (animated and otherwise) that delve into the psyche of animals will help your children relate to the feelings and emotional needs of animals. Old Yeller, Lassie and Lady and The Tramp are great to begin with. Not to forget Marley & Me and Hachiko: A Dog’s Story.

Visit an animal shelter: Similarly, you could spend a few hours at a local animal shelter to sensitise your child towards stray, abandoned, sick and injured dogs. Older kids may be encouraged to volunteer at shelters during holidays or on a couple of Sundays every month. Such activities are a tremendous learning experience and significantly add to your child’s extra-curricular repertoire.

By infusing your children’s hearts with love and regard for canines, you are not only contributing towards their moral development but also reinforcing the timeless bonds between humans and their best buddies.

Strengthening this bond of love… with your time

Facebook, Twitter, screen awards, advertisements… our pooches are everywhere. The Editorialrecently concluded Golden Collar Awards came as a pleasant surprise – our pooches really deserve to be awarded for their hard work. Whether they are on or off screen, they are true companions… truly a delight for all. Their unconditional love, loyalty, friendship is unmatched… sprinkling magic in every moment. Pooches have thousand different ways to show they care for us – we have few… let’s use them for strengthening this bond of love.

Take care of your pet… his diet, exercise, grooming and of course his health. Oral hygiene is an integral part of his health and make sure your pet is free from dental problems. Brush his teeth regularly and consult your vet if you notice any early symptoms like bad breath, tartar, etc. You are responsible for his hygiene and a little awareness can go a long way ensuring that your pooch leads a happy and healthy life.

Make today special – Go to parks, holidays together, join agility clubs, join pet camps – make it special for both. Visit a dog salon, look at the wide range of grooming services available (I bet you will be surprised there are so many innovative services available), choose the one which suits your dog’s condition… let him indulge in the exhilarating experience, while you sit and relax and watch him enjoying! To make it easier for you, we have listed a few grooming options in this issue, which are sure to tantalize your pooch’s senses.

The idea is to let them know how much we care for them, how much we love them and how important they are for our life – specially by spending quality time with them.

Sparkle wishes you happy sunny days ahead – do take care of all your happy stray friends who just need compassion care from your end.

Do participate on- and win gifts for your beloved friends.

Happy reading!


7 ways to bond with your pooch

Your pooch is an epitome of love and he deserves to be loved and cared for. Here are seven ways to bond with your sweet canine…

Exercise – Dogs are derived from wolves and need constant mental and physical stimulation. What better Dog Trainingway to start the bonding process by taking him back to nature by letting him smell, run and jump around! This gives him the perfect outlet to shed all that built up energy. Don’t forget to exercise his mind too. Games like fetch, hide and seek, agility, etc bring in a good equilibrium between mind and body.

Feeding – Feeding your dog is a great way to bond with your dog. Since you take the role of provider, your dog looks at you as the leader. This is also a time to reinforce his behaviour. You will see that this brings out his best behaviour!

Brushing/grooming –Not just long coated breeds, but all dogs need to be brushed and groomed. Brushing a dog not only reduces shedding, it also prevents bacterial build-up bringing a nice clean shine to the coat and reduces odour to a large extent. Added to all this, dogs love the touch and the attention they get.

Effective communication – A critical piece in strengthening the bond but very underrated! We can get very excited when we have to communicate to a dog when he is wrong. How often do we use the same energy to communicate when he has done the right thing? Take time out from your busy lives, listen to his body language and talk to him!

Massage – Dogs loved to be caressed. A nice massage not only relaxes their muscles, but also calms any jumpy nerves. If you find a sound sleeping dog on your lap after this session, you know your magical fingers have done the trick!

Reward your dog – Dogs, like us humans, need rewards and motivation. It’s totally unfair to expect a dog to do all the things he has learnt as a growing pup and not been rewarded for it. Praise is the greatest reward a dog asks and a ‘Good Boy’ ‘Good Girl’ at appropriate situations will bring your dog much closer to you than you can possibly imagine! Treats work wonder as well.

Purpose in life – Every dog needs a purpose in life. Because we are responsible for bringing them into our lives, we give them the best of food, love and sometimes even indiscipline! It’s only fair that we give them something more that they can do with their lives. Simple tricks like fetching the newspaper, remote control or even your keys are a hugely satisfying effort for your dog. For he loves to please and you have set him on a mission!

(Anand Vishwanath is the founder and pack leader of Anvis Inc, India’s first integrated pet management company. He is certified as an International Dog Trainer and Behaviourist under The Northern Centre For Canine Behaviour, UK).

Children an Dog

Striking the angelic bond!

Good kids and good dogs will have miscommunications every day. By teaching children and dogs how to interact with one another, we are laying the groundwork for happy, healthy relationships between them.

Kids and dogs: they go together like apple pie and vanilla ice cream or cookies and milk. Parents can do a lot to foster a strong, loving relationship. It’s simply a matter of education. We do the best we can with what we know. When we know more, we do better. Let’s do better!

Here are three steps for letting your child meet a dog

It is very important to teach kids how to interact with dogs they are interested in. Childish excitement could

Children and Dog

Striking the angelic bond!

be interpreted as a threat by inexperienced dogs.

Step 1: Ask the owner: Teach your kids never to rush up toward a dog. Tell them to stop about five feet away and ask the owner, “May I pet your dog?” Sometimes the answer will be ‘No’. Many dogs don’t live with kids and are not comfortable with them. So if the dog’s owner says ‘No’, that’s okay. Remind your kids that there are lots of other dogs who would love to be petted by them. If the pet parent says ‘Yes’, then the children must ask the dog.

Step 2: Ask the dog—do not skip this step! Have your children make a fist with the palm pointed down. Then they can slowly extend their arm for the dog to sniff their hand. Teaching the kids to curl their fingers in minimizes the risk of a dog nipping their finger. When the dog is being given the opportunity to sniff, watch his body language.

Does he come forward with loose, waggy motions? That’s definitely a ‘Yes’.

Does he lean forward for a quick sniff and seem comfortable? Also a ‘Yes’.

Does he turn his face away from your child’s hand? Back away? Bark? Move behind the owner? Look anxious and unsettled? Growl? These are all No’s.

Unfortunately some pet parents don’t understand or respect their dog’s decision and will drag the dog forward saying, “Oh, he’s fine. He loves kids. You can pet him.” DON’T! Do not ever allow your children to pet a dog who does not approach them willingly.

Step 3: Pet the dog: If the owner says ‘Yes’ and the dog says ‘Yes’, the kids can pet the dog. Tell your kids that they need to be careful of a dog’s sensitive eyes and ears. Most dogs don’t like to be petted on top of their heads, but nearly all people pet dogs this way—it’s a hardwired human behaviour. There is a blind spot on top of a dog’s head. If he sees your child’s hand moving toward that area, the natural inclination is for him to tilt his head up and watch where the hand is going. Now your child’s hand is reaching right over the dog’s teeth—not a very good place for that hand to be. Suggest that your children stroke the side of the dog’s neck, rub under his chin, scratch his chest, or pet along his back. Most dogs prefer slow, gentle strokes to rapid pat-pat-patting.

A parent’s guide to dog-bite prevention

The best barrier against the aggression is a strong social drive. When choosing a dog for your family, look for one who adores people, especially children. A dog who really enjoys kids will give your kids the benefit of the doubt when they step on his tail or fall over him. Even with the best supervision, there will be times when a child hurts a dog. One day, one of my sons kicked off his snow boot, which went flying down the hall and hit the dog. Fortunately for all of us, Gordo didn’t bat an eye.

I often see dogs who could be great family members with some support from the parents. Supervision, along with a basic understanding of dog behaviour, is the key. For example, here is something I bet you don’t know: Dogs don’t like hugs! Oh, I know, your dog loves when your kids hug him. While I believe that dogs can be taught to accept and, in a few cases, even welcome hugs, I also know that hugging is not a normal dog behaviour. Think about the last time you saw one dog “hug” another. It wasn’t a gesture of affection, was it? No, it was either mating or a dominance display. Do you really want your dog thinking your child is attempting either of those behaviours?

Children, especially preschoolers, rarely understand the concept of personal space. We parents need to be sure that our dogs get some downtime away from the kids. It’s wearing to have someone following you around all day, even if he means well. My kids know that if the dog goes in his crate, they cannot talk to him or pet him until he chooses to come back out. It gives the dog a private refuge where he’s not expected to be the local celebrity, the centre of attention.

Learning a bit about canine body language helps too. There is a set of behaviours—called calming signals—dogs display when they are stressed. These serve two purposes: they are an attempt at self-soothing, akin to thumb sucking, as well as a message to others that the dog would like the situation to defuse. Watchful parents can step in when they see their dog exhibiting these behaviours.

Lip licking—When a dog is a little anxious, he will often quickly stick out his tongue and lick his lips. It’s usually just a fast, little flick. Watch your dog; this is one of the most common signals I see.

Yawning—This is often mistaken for contentment. The dog is surrounded by kids, and he lets out a big yawn. Isn’t that sweet? Nope, it’s a sign that he’s in a little over his head and would appreciate your help.

Shaking off—We’ve all seen dogs shake off when they are wet, but this happens at other times too. Time to shake off and start over. It will happen right after something makes the dog uncomfortable, usually as he’s walking away.

Freezing—Watch out! Freezing is one step beyond a calming signal; it’s often a last-ditch attempt to tell you to back off. Dogs typically freeze right before they snap or bite. That may sound obvious, but one of the scariest things I ever saw was when a pet parent told me, “Lucy loves to have kids hug her. Look how still she is.” It was a heart-stopping moment for me. Lucy, thank goodness, did not bite, but she was definitely not enjoying the experience.

Spaying and neutering our pets helps too. Nearly 80 percent of dog bites come from intact males.

What to do when your child is afraid of dogs

Whenever Laura sees a dog, she shrieks and clings to her mother’s leg. Thomas runs the other way. And Samuel just freezes, wide eyed in terror.

Each of these children is afraid of dogs. As parents, we strive to teach our kids how to cope with life and its challenges. Yet some parents mistakenly believe that it is good for a child to be afraid of dogs because then the child will be more cautious around them. It doesn’t usually work that way. When children are frightened, they often run, scream and flail. These actions typically bring a dog closer, not keep it away.

The more you know about something, the less scary it becomes. Many kids are frightened because they don’t know what a dog will do next. Dogs communicate almost entirely through body language. A basic knowledge of body language can help kids to understand a dog’s intentions.

After you have a basic understanding of body language, start watching dogs from a distance. Park outside a pet supply store and talk about the dogs you see coming and going. Which ones look happy, which look frightened, which have been taught to walk nicely on a lead, which seem like old or young dogs?

When your child is very comfortable watching dogs at a distance, try introducing older, calm dogs to your child. Respect her fear and work at her own pace. Don’t try to rush or cajole her into doing more than she’s comfortable with.

Most children will reach out and touch a calm dog’s haunches if the owner turns the dog’s head away from the child. That’s an excellent first step. Talk with your child about how the dog’s fur feels. Ask her if she thinks other dogs’ fur would be softer or more rough. Get her thinking about that one dog as an individual. Ask the pet parent to talk about some of the dog’s favourite activities.

Work towards having your child gives the dog cues (with dog’s owner ensuring that the dog complies). Seeing a dog respond correctly to what she asks will help her feel safe.

It’s best for her to work steadily with one dog until she feels very comfortable before adding another. Once she has met and likes three calm adult dogs, begin thinking about introducing her to a puppy. Puppies are bouncy and outgoing, which can be unnerving for a tentative child. Again, let her start out at a distance, simply observing the puppy’s behaviour.

Take it slow. It’s much better to teach your child to be a skilled observer of animal behaviour than it is for her to be thrown into situations that frighten her. With patience and time, she will learn that there are many gentle, social dogs, and she’ll be able to interact safely and calmly with new dogs she meets. That’s far, far safer than having her remain afraid of all dogs.

On a concluding note…

It’s important not to blame kids for being kids or dogs for being dogs. Let’s be realistic; it’s impossible to control someone else’s behaviour 100 percent, be it dog or child. We parents can, however, teach dogs and kids to enjoy each other’s company more by building an understanding of each other’s behaviour—and in doing so, we will decrease that scary number of annual dog bites and help ensure that our children are not bitten.

(Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, is the author of Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind. Since 1991,she has been the go-to person for parents trying to navigate kid-and-dog issues. Because a knowledgeable adult can improve every interaction between a child and a dog, Colleen is committed to educating parents, children, and dog owners on kid-and-dog relationships. For more information, visit

A bond so true

Pet parents are looking at new ways to pamper whether it be grooming, products, food, Editorialtreats, toys et al to pamper their canine baby. It is really awesome to hear people say/write…‘My baby’ to their canine family.

But what happens when the real human baby arrives? Does the canine baby get neglected? Is the canine baby unhygienic then? Does the canine baby shed a lot of hair? Does the canine baby get jealous? Is the canine baby aggressive? Will the canine baby hurt my baby? So many questions arise and in some sad and worst cases…the poor canine is given up either to a shelter or relative or simply abandoned.

Why the canine who was loved, pampered and cherished – ignored now? The crux of the problem is not with the dog but with us the PARENTS. Once you get a canine puppy home he is yours for life and I would say vice versa too. When this remains your focus, questions as to re-homing/abandonment simply do not arise. We work our way around the situation and look for practical solutions.

Simple steps to keep your family together will be:

YOU – Your focus and intention (love for your dog) – do not ever waiver from the same.
Keep your canine baby clean, groomed and brushed daily if the need be.
Very important for the parents to divide responsibilities.
Rest of the family also pitch in taking care of your furry angel.
Do understand it is a big change for your four-legged too.
Be patient – if required speak to a professional dog trainer.
Don’t let him feel ignored- this would lead to jealousy and a not feel good factor for the baby.
Always have both of them under supervision.
Once your baby starts growing- crawling/walking – teach him to be gentle.
Give your dog the space he wants and deserves.
If something is disturbing him take him out of the room to another place and with a person he can be calm with.
All this while do pamper your furry buddy with loads of love, treats, pats, praises because he is being very brave.
Once you see both your babies playing together you will surely realise – THIS IS A BOND SO TRUE.

– Shweta