Kid and Dog

Take one kid. Add one dog. Stir. Stand back and watch the fun begin. Of course, some cautions apply.  A dog can be the perfect child’s companion — but it depends on the dog and how you teach both dog and child to interact. So what makes a dog a good kids' dog?

  • First, of course, it needs to not bite kids, even when the kids are provoking the dog. And of course, no matter what breed, dogs and young children should always be supervised, to guarantee everyone's safety.
  • Second, a good kids' dog shouldn’t be so large it can bowl a child over, or inflict serious damage should things go terribly wrong. A child should be able to control the dog on leash.
  • At the other extreme, a good child's dog shouldn’t be so small that it can be stepped on and squished, or dropped and broken.
  • A good kids' dog needs to want to interact with kids. It needs to be energetic and playful.
  • A good kids' dog also needs to be a comforter at times.
  • Ideally, a good kids' dog shouldn't run away should a gate be left open or a leash be dropped. Children are not always as careful as they should be. Put locks on your gates, and don't send a child out to walk the dog anywhere that he could get into trouble.

Introducing a Dog to a Baby

When introducing a dog to a baby, it’s tempting to be overly protective. But trying to hide your baby from your dog or holding it overhead out of his reach will only pique his curiosity and perhaps cause him to jump up or sneak into the baby's room to see what this creature is. You want him to meet the baby on your terms. Let them meet through a play pen or exercise pen at first. Lavish attention on your dog when the baby is in the room. Have your dog sit and then give him a treat. Continue as you move closer to the baby.

Don't shut your dog away because a new baby has arrived. Your dog may have been your baby until you brought this new hairless baby home. If you suddenly ignore your dog to dote upon the little interloper, especially if you further add to the injustice by hustling your dog out of the room just because the new darling is in there, you’re creating a recipe for a big case of jealousy. Instead, always make a fuss over the dog when the baby is around so the dog will associate the baby with good things.

Introducing a Dog to an Older Child

When introducing a dog to a child, do so under supervision. If it's a large dog, or an adult that's not used to children, keep the dog on leash. If it's a small dog or puppy, have the child sit on the floor so there's no chance of tripping over, dropping or chasing the puppy. Have the child give the dog a treat. Teach the child how to handle and pet the dog gently. Tell children never to run and scream around dogs.

Dogs and young children should always be supervised for both of their well-being. Talk to children about how to avoid dog bites:

  • Never approach a loose dog.
  • Never pursue or chase a dog that is trying to get away from you.
  • Never pet a dog without the owner’s permission.
  • Never approach a dog with puppies.
  • Never tease a dog, especially with food or a toy.
  • Never tease or taunt a dog that is chained up or behind a fence.
  • Never put your hand through a fence to pet a strange dog.
  • Never enter a yard with a dog in it without permission.
  • Never put your hand between two strange dogs, or any dogs that look like they may fight.
  • Never get in the middle of a bunch of dogs.
  • Never try to break up a dogfight.
  • Never try to touch a dog that has been injured or who is in pain.
  • Never approach a dog that is eating or chewing a bone.
  • Never approach a scared dog.
  • Never bother or surprise a sleeping dog.
  • Never try to take a toy away from a strange dog, even if it’s your toy.
  • Never place your face near the face of a strange dog.
  • Never run toward, away from, or anywhere around a strange dog.
  • Never make loud shrieks around a strange dog.
  • Never stare a strange dog in the eye.
  • Never assume that a wagging tail means a friendly dog.