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There are many dogs who are naturally aware of how to behave around children, and there are a few dogs who aren’t. Regardless of which category your dog falls into, all dogs still need training and socializing so that they know their boundaries. If you have children or are expecting people with children to visit your home, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your or their children are safe from your dog while they’re in your home. Have a look at how to childproof your dog.
- Socialize your dog – When your dog is a puppy, you need to make sure you take advantage of a critical period in his/her brain’s development. The time for action is between eight and sixteen weeks. During this time, your puppy will be quite willing to accept different people and situations. It is your responsibility as their mum or dad to make sure they are exposed to as many people and situations as possible so that they become comfortable with new people as well as situations. In that vein, introduce a new puppy to different children of different ages. It is crucial that your dog has good experiences with children so that he associates children with good feelings. Adult dogs are also quite capable of being socialized. However, the process is slower.
- Command train your dog – You cannot hope to teach your dog anything until it is trained to follow basic commands. Command training is important because it establishes a relationship with your dog. It teaches your dog that you are the master and not them. While you may be a gentle soul and would like to be friends with your dog, dogs don’t see your relationship as one of friendship. This is why it’s important that you establish that you’re the master and not your dog.
- Handling exercises are critical – Many children can’t help themselves from throwing their hands around a dog’s neck or tugging a dog’s tail. It is vital that your dog is prepared for this before he/she is exposed to a child. Any dog which is anxious or fearful at this kind of gentle prodding must be kept away from children. You can train a dog for this kind of attention by praising him a lot while gently pulling his/her tail, holding his paws and hugging him.
- Never leave a child alone with a dog – Regardless of how well behaved your dog is, you have a responsibility to never leave a child alone with a dog. This is because accidents are bound to happen, given the unpredictable nature of both the child and the dog.
As you can see, there are many ways you can childproof a dog. While this isn’t a complete list, it does serve as a start for childproofing a dog. Make sure you do plenty of research so that your dog is as comfortable as possible with children.