I had a very special relationship with our family dog growing up. She was my friend and confidant.
That experience has given me as a dog trainer a lot of empathy for children who love their pets. However, often I see family dogs backing away from kids or not coming to them when called. I have gotten calls from concerned parents when their dog has growled at their children, or something worse.
This is why I teach a unique class for kids (and their parents) to teach young people how to be their dog’s positive teacher and friend by understanding how dogs communicate, how to behave appropriately around dogs, and how to show their dog respect and responsibility.
Parents, it is important that you understand that young children can do many things that can make your dog uncomfortable around them. Kids may yell and scream, lean over or grab for your dog, move quickly or any number of things.
As a parent, caregiver and/or other adult role model you have a very important job to do – to help that relationship between your child or children and your dog (and other dogs) succeed.
Supervision is very important. However, supervision is defined in many ways. I often see advice to parents that dogs and young kids should never be left in a room alone together, but passive supervision (meaning the adult is in the same room, yet focused on other things) can also have the potential of being unsafe. It can take a split second for an incident to escalate.
Active supervision is when you are watching your kids and your dog, and are able to intervene if necessary. Taking that one step further, in order to know when intervention is needed, it is important to be able to recognize trouble.
I wrote about some ways you can be a more effective active supervisor in my blog. Please click here to read my tips.