Dogs and Children


This article was written for Pet Guardian Angels of America by J.Hamburg



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6 Tips to Socialize Your Dog with Kids

Socializing is something you can’t skip out on when it comes to your dog. Getting your dog used to being around other people and other animals ensures that your dog can cope in unfamiliar situations.

Socializing your dog helps get them used to the sounds, people, and animals that they will experience in the world. This can help prevent them from becoming aggressive. Many dogs become aggressive in unfamiliar situations because they feel scared. However, if they’re more accustomed to the world around them, they’re less likely to feel scared when faced with new experiences.

Socializing should begin when your dog is a puppy, but it continues throughout their life. While socializing your dog with other animals and adults is important, one area in particular that many owners focus on is socializing their dog with kids.

This is especially important if you have children or if you have children that regularly come into your home. When it comes to socializing your dog with children, here are six tips you’ll want to keep in mind.

Give the dog a safe space

Your dog must know that they have a safe place within the home where they can go if they need time to themselves. Before starting to socialize your dog with children within your home, make sure that your dog has a crate or room available to them where the children aren’t allowed to go. If the dog gets anxious, they can safely retreat. Teach the children not to interact with the dog if the dog is in a safe space.

Teach basic commands

Before you start taking your puppy around children, the puppy should already be familiar with some basic commands, such as “sit” and “stop”. If the puppy tries to jump or nip at the child, you can redirect the puppy’s behavior. While jumping and nipping might seem innocent when your dog is a puppy, keep in mind that jumping and biting aren’t behaviors you want adult dogs engaging in. Certain breeds train easier than others; visit WoofBarkGrowl to learn more about your dog’s breed.

Supervise interactions

When introducing your dog to children, interactions should be supervised. Both puppies and children are unpredictable. While it is important that your puppy not be allowed to bite or jump on the children, it is equally important that the children not be allowed to pull on the dog’s tail or roughhouse with it. Supervising interactions to see how the dog and children get along helps ensure that the interaction goes as smoothly as possible. Always supervise when your dog meets a new child.

Teach children how to interact

In addition to teaching the dog to behave, you should also teach the children how to interact with a dog. If a child has never been around a dog before, they might not know how to pet a dog gently or might not realize they shouldn’t pull hair. If possible, go over expectations with the child before introducing them to the dog. Remind them they should be gentle and that they should only pet a dog if the owner says it is okay.

Watch for over stimulation

It can be very easy for a puppy or dog to become over stimulated during socialization, especially if they are meeting a large group of children for the first time. It is very overwhelming and scary for a puppy to suddenly be surrounded by several children. Look for signs that your dog is starting to get over stimulated. They might start trying to cower in fear or they might start showing their teeth. If your dog seems scared or aggressive, remove them from the situation.

Go slow

When it comes to socializing, try to take things slowly and in steps. For example, even if you’re trying to socialize a new puppy with your own children, the first thing that should be established is that the puppy has a safe place to go. Let the puppy get familiar with the safe space before the socializing starts. At first, try to keep interactions between the puppy and the children limited to around 10 to 15 minutes. And, never force your dog into an interaction.

Final thoughts

Socializing your dog can take time, but it is worth it! Even older dogs can be socialized with the right amount of patience. Also, make sure to use positive reinforcement when socializing to reward the behaviors you want to see more of. If needed, you can also consider taking your dog to obedience class to help.

J.Hamburg is a freelance writer with a wide range of interests, including education, home improvement, and animals. She shares her home with a spoiled cat named Tucker.