Should I Get A Dog Before Or After A Baby?
Having a dog before having a baby can be a great way of easing yourself into parenthood, after all both will try and get into your bed at night, require housetraining and get you lots of admiring looks in the park. Equally, getting a puppy later in life can teach your little ones some very valuable life lessons. Just make sure that you don’t get their food mixed up.
A young girl taking her dog for a walk
On a serious note, it’s a decision that needs a lot of thought. It’s important to remember that a dog is a long term commitment and that once you have a baby you might not have enough time to care for a dog. A dog, who has had your undivided attention for his whole life may become jealous of your newborn once he becomes second in the pecking order. At the same time, getting a puppy after having children can pose some risks. You need to make sure that you are aware of these risks, and how to prevent them - supervision is key.
How To Teach Your Dog To Behave Around A Baby Or Child
Dogs and children can develop strong and loving bonds, they usually become great friends as well as protectors. Dogs have also been known to act differently when in the company of children and can put up with all kinds of unpredictable behaviour. This may not come naturally to your dog and you may need to train him to be forgiving of sticky fingered handling and screaming. Of course this is a two way street and it is important to teach your children how to behave properly around your dog.
A young boy rolling around on the grass with his Golden Retriever
To try and avoid dangerous dog behaviour around your baby or small child, begin by introducing your dog to an article of your baby’s clothing before you actually introduce your child. Hold the clothing with your child’s scent far away from your dog’s nose. Allowing your dog to smell the clothing in the air without going near it will teach him to respect that the smell belongs to you. This will teach him to respect your baby when you are with it, and of course, you must never leave your baby alone with your dog even if you think you have absolute trust in him.
A young girl outside with her Labrador
Things That Can Go Wrong
- Children can find winding up a dog funny. If they repeatedly provoke your dog then it will eventually snap and may even bite your child, so stop this behaviour as soon as you notice it.
- Children who are scared of dogs might choose at some point to run away from your dog or scream. It’s a good idea to teach your children to stay calm around your dog, otherwise you might find that this kind of behaviour will provoke aggression or playful aggression in a dog.
- Dogs can sometimes be quite protective of their toys, food or chew bones. Teach your dog that he should not show aggression when somebody approaches, but equally, teach you children that it still could happen.
- Children can sometimes get a little too playful with dogs and might even pull your dog’s coat, ears or tail. If this happens there is always a chance that your dog might bite in defence. Teach your children that this behaviour is unacceptable so that your dog is never provoked.
A baby and an English Bull Terrier playing on the grass
Some breeds of dog are known to be exceptionally good with children. For example, dogs with a calmer temperament like the Labrador are the perfect choice for a family with small children. This breed in particular has a very tolerant and loving nature which fits perfectly with children. Our section on dogs and children will help you find the right breed for you, or you can search through our dog directory to find the typical temperaments of each dog breed. It is worth remembering however that all dogs have individual personalities.
Getting A Dog When Your Children Start School
Dogs love waiting at the school gates for their favourite little friend to come out and play. Taking care of a dog can teach children responsibility and respect. It can also help to develop their social skills, as well as encourage them to get some fresh air and exercise. To find out more about how to teach children to behave around dogs follow this link.
A young girl with a Siberian Husky puppy
Always Supervise Your Dog
In summary, the most effective way of avoiding aggressive behaviour is to always supervise your dog and children and anticipate when problems might occur. If you supervise the interactions between your dog and children then you can step in before things get out of hand.