In most of American households, dogs are adopted because the child demands it. Parents may or may not be fond of dogs, but once a child sees a cuddly puppy and wants to get it, it is fait accompli that the household will sport a pet dog.
While it is a wonderful event for a household with a child or children to bring home a puppy, many parents think their duties end with that. Of course, they have to care for it, tend to its needs and all that, but few parents think of the relationship that is going to develop between that dog and their child. This omission can be a serious mistake. Why so, you may ask.
Let us examine the circumstances. A child can hardly distinguish between a pet toy and a pet animal. To him or her, they are things that satisfy their momentary passion for diversion. While a toy can be discarded or abused, a pet cannot be. I may offend parents, but note this. A child has no concept of right or wrong, good behavior or bad behavior. Therefore, children, unless properly monitored, can turn into incredibly cruel and selfish human beings. When this cruelty manifests itself unchecked against a helpless, defenseless pet, it can perpetuate the child’s personality.
Ever witness a dog being “teased” by a child. No? Watch carefully. Children often pull or box a dog’s ears (which is extremely painful), land on them, try to pry open their jaws, pull their tail, poke their eyes….the list goes on. Some kids do it rarely, others do it often.
So one of your responsibilities is to make sure children treat their dog with decency and care. It is as much commonsense as it self-defence. If a dog is irritated enough times, he can turn on the tormentor in a vicious way. While nothing is fool proof, here are some tips on how to ensure children and their pets have a healthy, positive and fulfilling relationship..
1. Do not let children use any sharp objects around dogs.
2. Coach children in playing with the dog. Frisbees, balls, bones and other rounded objects are great for dogs to fetch. While you have to go through the boring exercise of teaching the dog on how to fetch, once you both have mastered the technique, it can give you and your children hours of pure fun. And it will get your children to be active.
3. Teach children to stay away from dog’s mouth and tail. Children have a nasty habit of prying open dog’s jaws to look inside and pulling dog’s tail. Many dogs view this as a threat and will react violently. Not the first or second time, but some time.
4. Rough physical sport with dogs should not be encouraged, specially with young children. Neither Dogs nor children know the limits of rough and tumble games and what may look as innocent roughhousing can turn into a deadly act.
5. Teasing dogs is fine as long as it is done from a distance. Never encourage teasing with an object, such as poking the dog, or hitting him.
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