Before I became Oliver and Jack’s mom, I was Auby, Gracie and Max’s mom. My first babies are dogs. Weimaraners to be exact; and I love them to pieces.
Once my kids were born, people often asked what I was going to do with my dogs. As a ten year veteran in animal rescue, this question was not a surprise to me, unfortunately. I’ve seen lots of great dogs get ditched for various reasons, but especially when the two legged kiddos come along.
My personal belief is that once you take on the responsibility of a pet, you owe that animal a lifetime of love. They are not commodities that you “give away” or put in a “good home.”
While approximately 62% of U.S. households owns a pet, there are still 2.7 million dogs and cats euthanized each year in shelters. 2.7 million! Sad, isn’t it?
Teaching your dogs how to behave is imperative if you expect them to be tolerable roommates. No dog will automatically know to be polite and follow the rules. They certainly won’t know how to behave around strangers and kids… unless you take the time teach them.
These are things I regularly do with my dogs to help them tolerate the tiny humans:
- Grab the dog’s tail, feet and ears – to desensitize them to something most dogs find very annoying
- Play with the dog’s food – to decrease food aggression
- Exercise the dog daily – to take the edge off and relax them
- Praise and reward the dog when they are good – to build their confidence and show right from wrong
- Do not hit, kick or otherwise physically correct the dog – to avoid spooking the dog or harming rapport
- Work on basic commands – to give them practice taking direction from you in a calm, controlled setting
My dogs are far from perfectly behaved… They will definitely snatch food off the counter or excitedly knock over anything. But I am very proud of their happy demeanor.
I always, always monitor the interactions between my dogs and children. No matter how nice they are, an animal could snap and hurt a child. While I feel confident that my dogs have received the training to be patient around little ones, I feel it is a parent’s responsibility to make sure their kids interact appropriately with dogs.
I highly recommend any pet owner take a lesson from a professional trainer, particularly when adjusting to a new situation. To find a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, search for professionals on this website: http://www.ccpdt.org/
What kind of pets does your family have? What have you done to help them behave well?