Adding a new family member can be exciting and stressful for anyone. It is a change to the family dynamics and schedule. If you have a dog, it’s a change in routine for your furry friend. Before the newest member of your family arrives, it’s important to be ready. Here’s how to prepare your dog for children:
1. Work With a Trainer
Working with a trainer can help you and your dog establish better behavior and boundaries. Even if your dog is well-behaved, reinforcing that behavior will be extremely helpful. Trainers will help you go over basic commands and ways to better communicate with your dog.
Something important to work on is space dominance. Your dog needs to understand that they must recognize you and your child’s space. Otherwise, they may nip or push your child around. A trainer can offer you tips and training advice in order to prevent this behavior.
2. Introduce Them to Children Beforehand
Letting your dog get to know children early on is a great way to prepare them for your own children. Children are unpredictable and loud and this is something your dog needs to adjust to. Guided and supervised interactions between young kids and puppies or your older dog can be good practice and help prepare your dog for children.
Talk to family or friends with children and see if they would be comfortable with introducing your dog to them. Make sure you are fully in control of your dog, and be sure they are on a leash. This way, you have control but they also are aware of your presence. This will help keep your dog calm.
When your dog meets children, be sure the children have some ground rules in place first. Make sure they know to approach slowly and let your dog sniff them first. Remind them to be gentle with your pup, and not to pull their tail. If your dog has a good first experience with children, continue to expose them until they are fully comfortable.
3. Work on Leash Behavior and Recall
Something that’s very important in preparing your dog for children is working on leash training and recall training. This can be done with a trainer or on your own. Use your dog’s leash more frequently and reward good behavior with treats.
An easy way to work on recall is to sit on a couch or chair with some kibble or training treats. Next, call your dog, and when they come to sit by you, offer a treat. Then, tell them to go to their bed or spot. Repeat this process a few times a week to reinforce this behavior and improve your dog’s recall training. This will help your dog listen and obey when you call them away from your child if needed.
4. Crate Train
Crate training can be really helpful in childproofing your dog. A crate allows your dog to have a safe space that is theirs and theirs alone. Use positive reinforcement to train your pup. Offer treats when they go to the crate and calmly stay inside.
Keep their crates cozy so they’ll see the crate as an oasis. As your child grows, be sure they understand the crate is off-limits. This way, your dog can always feel safe and secure!
Dogs are wonderful companions for children. Hopefully, these ways to prepare your dog for children are helpful and help the adjustment period go smoothly!