It's not unusual for kids to have a hard time getting used to having a dog around, whether it's at home all the time, or when visiting family and friends who have a furry friend. No matter how lovable they are, dogs can be pretty scary for kids. But that doesn't mean that you have to stay away from them. You can teach your kids how to love dogs as much as the dogs will love them back!
Teach them how to commandWe know how to get a dog to behave as long as they've learned the basic commands, but kids don't know what to do. Show them how you use your voice and hand motions to tell the dog what you want it to do, and even have them practice using their strong voice. If they learn how to command in a way that a dog will listen to, they'll feel more control over the dog, and that will give them the confidence to enjoy playing with them.
Get the sniff approvalI don't know any dog that doesn't want to smell everyone they see. Teach your kids to introduce themselves to a new dog by holding out their hand, palm up at nose level so the pooch can get a whiff. Make sure to teach your kids to hold their hand still until the dog has passed judgment, either by licking their hand or turning away. This will reassure the dog that the kids are friendly, and can help the pup stay calm, which will help your kids stay calm too.
Exposure is bigLet the kids spend time with the pups, but aim for less aggressive dogs at first. It's best to start them out with friendly dogs who aren't overly excitable. It wouldn't be good to scare them off of dogs for good because an overly friendly dog jumps on them for kisses. Give them time with a mild-tempered, calm dog and they'll feel more comfortable around all kinds of dogs. If you're bringing a dog into your home for the first time, it's a good idea to adopt an older dog who has already grown out of his youthful puppy exuberance.
Consider their temperamentSmaller isn't always better when it comes to getting the kids to like dogs. Certain smaller breeds are actually more aggressive and that can make your kids feel threatened. For example, one little boy is terrified of dogs after being nipped by a chihuahua years ago. Some dogs are so territorial that they'll never be able to adjust to playing with kids, regardless of the breed, so always consider whether the pup is going to be a family loving pet, or a single fur-parent animal before you bring him home.
Tricks are for kidsIt's a lot of fun for kids to see a dog that knows a few tricks. If you can, have someone show off their dogs best tricks. If you don't know anyone with a trained dog, you can also find videos online that show off some fancy dog tricks. If you're bringing a new dog into your home, you can ask your kids to help you teach the dog some tricks, which will give them a sense of ownership and responsibility toward the dog.
If you've tried everything and your kids still have trouble being around dogs, it might be something they just need time to grow out of. Don't force them to be around dogs if it really upsets them. Do find small ways to empower them to feel more confidence around dogs, even if you just have to start with looking at cute pictures and videos.
Lisa Mason is a content marketer and dog lover writing for Doggie Clothesline. For a wide variety of dog accessories, pet supplies and more, visit Doggie Clothesline. You’re sure to find many things that will suit your needs and your dog’s personality.