5 Steps for Introducing Your Dog To Kids

These 5 key points To Introduce New Dog To Kids

You only get one chance to introduce new dog to kids and control a successful experience.   Slow down.  Take time to read this before you bring Fido home to excitable children.  These tips can help tremendously with your experience, and with your new dog's perspective of your children.

1.) Positive Associations
The best thing you can do to have your dog see your child(ren) as a positive thing is to associate their presence with something the dog truly values.

Most of the time, that super high value item is food. It can be as basic as their kibble that they go crazy over, or a little more interesting like pieces of bacon leftover from breakfast, cheese, or nips of steak. Although, not every dog yearns for food. Some dogs would do just about anything in their power to get a ball. Or a scratch under the chin.

The only problem is, sometimes toys create an over-aroused state of excitement (which isn't good when it comes to children), and petting involves being in close proximity, which increases the chance for the dog to become nervous. We want to minimize risk at all angles possible. So even if your dog isn't crazy about food, chances are, he/she will eat it if presented.

Each and every time your little one is in the presence of your dog, have high value tid bits out. If your dog is in the crate, have your child pass by, and drop in some food. Have the 'high value' food bits present ONLY when the child is around. After the child leaves, then no more super high value treats. We want the dog to equate the child with real good things.

2.) SUPERVISION. ALWAYS!
This goes without saying. Having been in many homes with children, as well as being a parent myself, I've seen exactly just how quickly something can happen.

The time it takes to go to the bathroom could be more than enough time for shenanigans to be pulled and a dog to be stressed. Unless you are actively supervising, or able to address/manage anything that could come about, have the dog in his crate! We want the dog and our kids to develop habits that will strengthen the relationship, instead of making choices that are otherwise dangerous.

The crate is such a useful tool, and probably the least utilized. Get a long-lasting chew (from our friends at www.bestbullysticks.com) and put him in the crate with something to do! Chewing is a natural boredom and stress reliever, so, a long lasting chew is one of our main go-to's when trying to preoccupy your dog in the crate.

Not sure how to get your dog to settle down in the crate? Check out our blog: http://thek9coachblog.com/how-to-stop-dog-barking/

3.) YOUR CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOR MATTERS
This will sound a bit harsh, but it holds truth and needs to be seriously considered: If you cannot gain control of your child who speaks the same language as yourself, and they don't respect the rules you have in place, how will your dog?

Many, many times I've gone into client's homes, and the children are bouncing off the walls, shrilling, and "having fun". Just like how we teach puppies that there is a time and a place for excitable behavior, the children need to learn the same---if anything for the dog's sake. Loud, excitable behavior will get the dog excited and/or stressed. If we don't want the dog to jump or get rambunctious around the kids (or worse--get stressed), then the kids need to be productive around the dog. Sure, kids get excited and this isn't to say they can't! But, teach a time and place.

If the kids want to play with the dog indoors, then turn it into a game of recall. The child calls the dog's name (maybe moves away from the dog), and rewards the dog when it gets to them.

4.) HAVE THE KIDS TRAIN THE DOG
The best way to open communication is through obedience training. Have your dog follow through with a command given by your child.

If your dog doesn't know any commands (or doesn't know them fluently), bait their hand with some food, and "lure" the dog into various positions, like sit, down, and place. Luring basically encompasses the concept of, "Where the head goes, the body will follow". If the dog doesn't immediately try to nip the baited hand, take the hand full of food, and having it right at the dog's nose, have your child guide him into different positions, releasing the food when the dog performs. T

his creates a focused and interested mindset in the dog, rather than just mindless. A lot of dogs see the children in the family as roommates, or little "ATMs" that dispense treats every now and then---not anyone they need to respect and listen to. Training helps the dog realize he needs to listen to everyone in the house--not just mom and dad.

5.) TALK TO US, OR ANOTHER REPUTABLE TRAINING SPECIALIST
This most certainly is a 'tip' you can use! There is so much information out there on training your dog, it can be intimidating. Add a kid (or kids) into the equation and the intimidation doubles! You want to know what is going to work for your dog to permanently create better behaviors/associations, and what will work for your unique family dynamic.

How does one find a 'reputable' trainer in a virutally unregulated industry? Check out the International Association of Canine Professionals. The trainers in this organization are highly educated and versed in various methods/tools to use what works for your dog. Visit their website, and find a trainer in your area: www.canineprofessionals.com

Bringing a newly adopted dog home shouldn't be scary! If you're ever concerned, contact us, or a trainer in your area!

The K9 Coach proudly offers phone consultations, in-home consultations or you can bring the family to us!  We serve Pinehurst, Wilmington, Charlotte, Raleigh, Fayetteville and nearby areas.

Dana Brigman