One of the best things about being a parent is watching your children grow and learn new things every day. But as they get older, the challenges change, making you feel like you’re less in control than ever before. One of those challenges for parents with young children is figuring out how to keep kids safe around pets. In fact, board & train in Chico – Ridgeside K9 NorCal Dog Training has observed a trend these days where the number of toddlers and young children bitten by pets increases.
Luckily for parents everywhere, we’ve gathered our top tips for ensuring your toddler stays (mostly) safe around dogs and other pets, including talking to your kid about approaching animals and teaching them basic dog behavior.
Set Consistent Boundaries With Your Toddler
If your child doesn’t understand what the boundaries are, for example, which areas are off-limits to dogs and which ones aren’t, you’ll find yourself having to repeat yourself over and over. If you can anticipate where problems might arise, it’s easier to create clear boundaries for your child. For example, if you know your dog barks a lot when people approach the front door, have your tot stay back from the door when they are around a pup.
Keep Your Dog Away From Strange Children Until You Know They are Safe Around Them
Although you can’t always control how people are going to behave around your pup, there are some things you can do for yourself. For example, if you have a dog who’s not too fond of strange children, make sure they are on a leash and away from the tot when kids come over. It might help set up an area where your dog can get away if they get overwhelmed by the visit.
Provide Safe Opportunities For Toddlers And Dogs To Spend Time Together
Whether at your house or a friend’s, practicing around dogs gives kids the time and space to learn how to interact with animals. So, if you have a dog and you have friends or family members with toddlers, take advantage of their visit to see how your tot interacts. Keep your dog safe from the child (for example, by using a harness or leash), make sure that everyone is calm and relaxed (especially if children are present), and try new things (for example, have the tot ask your pup to sit) or play games (for example, hide treats for the dogs to find).
Stress The Importance Of Being Relaxed Around Animals
Asking your child to be calm and relaxed around animals is a great way to teach them about their emotions and to help prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Also, encourage your tot to practice being calm by practicing with you before situations arise. For example, you can have them practice saying “behave” and other commands when dogs visit. Finally, encourage them to stay calm and relaxed in general so that they will be able to cope with an upset puppy (or anyone else) if it ever happens.
Make Your Dog Respect Your Toddler
The more dogs get used to kids being around them, the easier it will be to see children as friends (rather than enemies). To help your pup get used to young visitors, have your child play around the house with the pup, give them treats, and talk about dogs to cultivate the idea that they are safe. Also, make sure that you’re keeping your dog busy with toys or other activities other than jumping on people. This will help prevent biting accidents.
Know When To Seek Help
If your pup is having trouble listening to you no matter what you do, consider hiring a professional. Whether it’s from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or another animal-related organization, there are plenty of experts that can help teach your dog to listen to you. A dog trainer can work with you and your toddler together or on their own, giving them the tools they need to behave around animals safely.
Although kids and dogs may seem like an odd combination to some parents, it’s worth the challenges to see your toddler grow up with a loving, intelligent friend to play with. In addition, taking the time to start teaching your toddler about safety around dogs and other pets can help prevent problems for years to come. After all, learning how to look out for each other is one of the most important things kids and pets can do together.