IMPORTANT: ALWAYS SUPERVISE CHILDREN AND DOGS WHEN TOGETHER. For example, at playtime and feeding time. Dogs get tired very quickly so they must have somewhere to go away from the children. A good idea is a dog crate, this will be his den, a place to rest and will save you endless worry and stress.
Teach the children to teach the dog to sit before any fuss or treats are given. Try not to let children and dog ‘roll around’ on the floor play fighting.
The dog will get excited and play biting can get out of hand if the children have not been taught how to stop the play. It also means that the dog will see the children as litter mates because the children do not know how to read the canine body language. Better to let the child play ball with the dog and focus attention on the ball, the child then stops the game by putting the ball away. A well-known phrase by APBC member John Rogerson is ‘Control the games and control the dog’.
Let your child add tasty food to the dog’s food bowl. Anyone then approaching the food will not be seen as a threat.
Stress to children that the dog is not a toy and will be with the family for the rest of its life.
The first 6–18 weeks are the most important. Teach children how to handle the dog calmly. Dog school is the best place to teach both children and dogs.
If you know someone who has a baby, introduce the dog and baby under supervision. This may prove beneficial if you or friends are thinking of adding to your family whilst you have a dog.
DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN TO ABUSE YOUR DOG. He/she is a living, breathing animal that can feel pain, annoyance and who can be driven by his instincts to do the unexpected in certain circumstances. If we are lucky, he’ll be fairly tolerant, but what right do we have to take advantage of that?
FINALLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, NEVER, NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE WITH A CHILD – not even to pop out for a few minutes. Take one or the other with you.
Don’t take a risk, which you may regret later.