Dog Rules for Kids
By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
I’m moving into a house with children for the first time. I love kids and how they play. They are fun and energetic and much closer to my size. My mom has a lot to sort out though, because she doesn’t want the kids to mess up my training, or more importantly, do something that could get them hurt.
Most children have an innate interest in animals, and dogs make fantastic companions for children. They will protect them for as long as they are physically able and love them unconditionally for the entirety of their lives. They are also a fantastic way to teach children responsibility, caring, and the positive effects of a gentle nature. The relationship between a child and a dog does so much for both parties, as long as the right rules are put in place and followed. This set of basic rules will help children understand how to behave around your dog, and keep them both safe.
Tricks before Treats
No treats or toys for the dog until he does a trick.
This is especially important if you follow the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) training philosophy
. If a dog is acting up, being too wild, barking, begging or performing some other undesirable behavior, and you give him a treat to shut him up, you have just shown him exactly what he has to do to get a treat. Instead, when your dog is performing an undesirable behavior, ask him to sit, lay down, shake, or do something else for which he would deserve a treat, then he can have one. The same goes for playing with toys. Don’t throw the ball to distract your dog when he’s barking. Make him work for it first.
Treat your dog the way you would like to be treated.
Ask children if they would like their ears pulled on, if they would like to be forced to stand on one leg, if they would like to be smacked, pinched, or squeezed. Of course they wouldn’t. Make sure children around your dog understand that the only acceptable way to treat the dog is in ways they would not mind being treated.
Do not tease the dog with food or toys, and especially not hands.
Teasing breeds aggression and confusion in both dogs and people. First of all, it is mean, and that is the best way to explain it to kids—it goes along with the golden rule. Furthermore, teasing dogs with food and toys will teach them to jump up. This can lead to children getting scratched, knocked over, or maybe worse. Kids teasing a dog with their hands are likely to get bitten eventually.
Why I Bite
I bite because it’s the only way I have to say “No, I don’t like that”
Trusted family dogs will put up with an awful lot, but we are still animals. We cannot yell at you; our only recourse if things go too far is to bite. Explain to kids that dogs don’t have hands to push you away or words to ask nicely, so they must not cross the dog’s boundaries by being too rough, teasing the dog, or otherwise messing with him.
Leave the dog alone in his crate and in his bed, the outdoors are for playing, inside is for relaxing.
Establish rules associated with different areas in the home. If you have a play room where the kids are allowed to play with the dog and his toys, that is fine. Otherwise, make it clear to the kids that excitable, raucous play is for outside only, it is safer and things are less likely to get broken.
Also, kids must understand that a dog’s bed and his crate are his and only his. A dog should always feel safe and comfortable in his crate. Explain to children that his crate is his room, his private space, and he should be left alone when he is in it.
Game No Nos
No Tug-o-war, chasing, wrestling, or jumping.
These games are too rowdy and teach the dog to be too physical with children. They can also go wrong quickly. Chasing is all fun and games until the dog playfully tackles the child to the ground and the child gets hurt. These games also cause training backslides because they often allow the dog to feel dominant.
Take it Easy
Be calm around dogs.
When you are playing with a dog, it is not a time to yell, scream, or run. Dogs react to this kind of behavior with raucous excitement of their own.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Don’t mess with the dog when he’s sleeping.
Children must understand that dogs can act aggressively if bothered when they are sleeping. Besides, they deserve their rest too.
No People Food
Absolutely no people food for dogs.
As the dog’s owner, you are entitled to decide whether or not your dog may eat people food, but this rule should still stand with children. Most kids do not have a thorough enough understanding about what foods are dangerous for dogs
, what is unhealthy, and what it just too much. If kids feel empowered to give your dog people food, you will have a hard time knowing how many calories he is consuming, and therefore will have difficulty regulating his diet.
Four on the Floor
No picking up the dog or “dancing” with him
Dogs are most comfortable with four feet on the floor; this is how they are designed and how it was meant to be. Dogs who are picked up could react with aggression, or they could squirm and accidentally be dropped.
I’m really excited about living with little humans! I hope you are all taking advantage of this beautiful summer… It’ll be over before we know it!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's tips on stretching your pet care budget.