If you don’t have kids of your own but plan on having children, are expecting or adopting, or want your dog to be comfortable with young children, socialization with that age group is important.
What does it mean?
It means repeated positive experiences. You want your dog to have positive associations with young children.
How to create positive associations?
If your dog has shown aggression, fear, or discomfort around children, I recommend working with a certified dog trainer.
If you have a young puppy or your dog is neutral and relaxed around young children, here are a few examples.
>>> Unknown Children
Your dog sees young children from a safe distance and gets a treat or plays with a toy. Your dog learns young children to predict treats and play! Rinse and repeat!
>>> Known Children
Ideally meet in a neutral space, making sure the child gives your dog plenty of space and choice.
Your dog is given a choice to approach a child, approaches in a happy and...
My kids and Lola have an amazing relationship. They share a strong bond and mutual love for each other. It is a dream come true. But they are still young children with fast-developing brains, who need caregivers’ guidance and management.
>>> Management for 3-5-year-old children is going to vary based on your child and the phases they go through. Physical management (gates, no-go zones) should still be in place. However, you know your child, and if they are good at following rules, you can give them more responsibility and loosen management in certain instances.
Here are some ideas on HOW TO SAFELY INVOLVE A 3 TO 5 YEAR OLD WITH YOUR DOG. As always, both child and dog should be consenting, relaxed, and happy to participate.
+ Giving Treats
Around this age children are more reliable about treat delivery, holding it properly, and then releasing it to the dog.
+ Assisting With Feedings
Preschoolers can fill kongs or other puzzle toys with treats or kibble, hide food in a...
When choosing a dog/baby gate for your new family, there are so many things to consider!
We made a few mistakes when we purchased our first gate, and now I have a great list of essentials for any safety gate that will be used around kids.
As a twin mom, I was aware that there could be complications, and many multiples arrive earlier. I had the best second trimester, I was full of energy and in great shape, and I assumed it would continue that way.
Literally overnight, I had to stop working and was put on modified bed rest for 2 months, with two short hospital stays. We never had a chance to introduce Lola to a stroller. Luckily it was not an issue, but not every dog does well with a stroller without training.
While severe complications are rare, you might be too tired and uncomfortable in the last weeks of your pregnancy.
And, since babies often don’t arrive on their due date, it’s best to start earlier.
The ideal time to start preparing your dog for your baby is about 3 to 6 months before you have your baby.
If your dog has any behavioral issues that need to be addressed, like:
How many people recommended bringing the baby blanket, baby hat, or your baby’s onesie home for your dog to smell as a way of introducing your dog to your baby? Probably many, am I right?
As a trainer who taught scent detection classes and competed in scent detection, here's my take on it. To start, there are a multitude of smells being brought home on that item in addition to the baby’s scent:
While your dog will detect the baby smell on the blanket, it will be one of many scents.
Your dog is exposed to new smells every day. Every time we bring new items into the house - groceries, new items we purchased, anytime we come from being somewhere else, we bring new smells. Dogs learn that smells don't matter unless they already have a strong association with a particular smell.
There's no harm in bringing the...
Many parents of newborns and young children find puzzle toys super helpful. They often reduce the parents’ guilt of having less time for the dogs and keep the dogs busy, a win-win situation. I recommend using them to feed dogs their meals, make snacks, during grooming sessions, or when working on alone time training.
There are many puzzle toys on the market and your dog certainly doesn't need all of them. Over the years, I’ve tested many puzzle toys on various dogs. Here are some of my favorites.
If you have a herding breed dog or one that likes to play with toys, a ball-like...
Chews can be so helpful when you have a newborn or a young child and have less time for your dog. Under-exercised dogs can bark, chew on your furniture or kids’ toys. Chews will keep your dog occupied, and they are a great outlet for dogs’ natural instincts.
As I was researching various chews to share with you, I came to the conclusion that there just isn't one 'always-safe' chew for every dog. Possible concerns: broken or cracked teeth, choking, gastro-intestinal irritation, or digestive obstruction, should a dog bite off more than they can chew or decide to swallow something whole.
Is there a toy or a puzzle toy that occupies your dog for longer?
Due to the nature of my job, I have tested many different puzzle toys on Lola and other dogs. There are new puzzle toys each year but there are some we’ve been buying over and over or we’ve kept for years. The reason I’m buying them again is not always because she destroys them, some get lost.
We started using the Slow Feeder Bowl about three years ago. Having fed Lola out of complicated puzzle toys for many years, I’m not ready to feed her out of a bowl. I love when dogs work for food because there are so many benefits. This is a good alternative to a regular bowl.
Pickle Pocket is my secret weapon. This toy holds up really well. I hide small yummy treats or tiny pieces of sausage or cheese and Lola spends hours chewing on it and dropping it with the hope that food will fall out.
An award-winning puzzle toy! Very well made, durable, hold treats, kibble, all sorts of...
While there is baby-specific training that I recommend doing when you are expecting or adopting, a lot of the training can be done much sooner.
I asked my followers on Instagram to share with me, what was the best thing they taught their dogs to prepare them for future children.
Marya: “Crate training. So helpful not only with a 4-month-old but in so many instances.”
Melanie: “Place work! So nice to tell her to go lie down if she’s showing anxiety or just is in the way. “...
If you have a high-energy and/or working line dog, an occasional bully stick won’t do it. Even if your dog has plenty of exercise, that might not be enough for dogs who need a job to thrive. More complicated puzzle toys are very helpful when you cannot exercise your dog, e.g. during pregnancy, or postpartum recovery.
DID YOU KNOW? You can make most puzzle toys more challenging by freezing the food or packing them densely.
Here are some options:
The flexible prongs make this toy more challenging. Durable comes in 3 sizes.
Another challenging puzzle toy from the same company. The plastic is durable according to parents who tested it on their destructive chewers.
Interlocks with other Genius toys for an added challenge. Comes in two sizes.
You can hide kibble, treats, or smear PB. If you use it for kibble, it is pretty time-consuming to fill it. But it is equally challenging for your dog to get...
Stay up-to-date on all the news from Dog Meets Baby.
Plus, get on the waitlist to receive a Free Guide: "5 Ideas on How to Involve your Toddler with your Dog"