Dogs and kids can make great companions for one another. With parental supervision and help, dogs can help kids learn to respect life and to care responsibly for another being. Children can enrich dogs’ lives by being social companions, friends, and playmates. However, if both are not taught to behave properly around each other, dogs and kids can frighten and injure one another.

All kinds of problems can develop between kids and dogs. A common complaint is the dog becoming too rough during play. The child’s behavior may or may not be a contributing factor. Some dogs may just become too excited too easily, but some children may also purposely “wind the dog up”, resulting in the dog knocking the child down or grabbing clothing.

Dogs are often afraid and defensive around young children. Children do not behave, move or talk like adults do. Their jerky movements, high pitched yells and unpredictable behaviors are difficult for many dogs to tolerate. Dogs will be more likely to be comfortable around children if they are “socialized” or exposed to well behaved, gentle children during the sensitive period for socialization, from 4-12 weeks of age.

Helping kids and dogs be safe around one another involves more than training and socializing the dog. Children must also be trained to respect dogs and learn to be kind and gentle with them. Children also need to learn how to behave around unfamiliar dogs so they can be safe.  Discourage your children from wanting to hug their dog.  While many dogs will “tolerate” this from a child, most do not like it.  And it puts your child at a BIG risk of being bitten.

In many of the serious and fatal bite cases we’ve consulted on, a lack of parental supervision was a factor in many of them. Warning signs that the dog may not be safe, or was being maintained in an unsafe way, were also ignored.

If you are concerned about the safety of your child around your dog or someone else’s, seek professional help sooner rather than later. Know how to choose a behavior consultant by reading our report on the subject.

Never, ever leave young children and dogs together unsupervised no matter how well behaved you think both of them are. Accidents can happen. Don’t allow your children to play roughly with your dog, or your dog to be overly excited and out of control with your kids.

We believe that the earlier you start creating a good relationship between your child and your dog, the better for both. That’s why we created our DVD “Helping Fido Welcome Your Baby”. Based on the course by the same name we’ve taught to pregnant couples at Denver area hospitals for years, this program describes concrete steps you must take to prepare your dog for your baby’s arrival as soon as you learn you are pregnant. Includes what to do the day you bring baby home and how to troubleshoot common problems after your baby arrives.

A great companion for our DVD, especially for the slightly noise sensitive dog, is “Preparing Fido”, a recording of all kinds of baby sounds. From endearing cooing to the sound of a screaming infant that makes you want to punch the stop button immediately, use this with the desensitization and counter conditioning procedures described in our DVD to help your dog overcome any fear or excessive reactivity to baby sounds.