Keep ALL your loved ones safe!
Many families visit the centre with the intention of obtaining a pet that will grow up with and provide many years of companionship for the children in the family. The number and ages of the children varies considerably from very young babies, to toddlers to teenagers. The essential requirement for a satisfactory, friendly, trusting relationship to be established with the children is that, the parents are totally involved in the dogs training, play and upbringing between the ages of 7 wks - 1 yr old. All interactions between the children and the dog must be supervised. The parents must guide both the child and the dog as to how to play and interact with each other without over stimulation, biting or general mayhem.
Puppies bite which is known as "mouthing". This is normal and natural behaviour for a puppy. It is essential for the parents to teach both the child and the puppy how to eliminate this mouthing. The games which children play with puppies need to be monitored. Children left to play and interact at will may unintentionally teach the puppy "bad manners" which become "unacceptable behaviours" as the puppy reaches adulthood. The first 8 months passes very quickly and if the correct supervision hasn't been given you will find yourself living with a boisterous untrained young dog. Puppies are easily over stimulated by children. Puppies learn very quickly and once a behaviour pattern is learnt it is very difficult to undo.
Your responsibility is to make sure the puppy learns the correct behaviour. Never put the puppy into a situation where it can make a mistake e.g. if a young dog is left with a toddler or younger child it may "mouth" the child's arm in play or chew and bite the child's clothing. It may also chew the child's toys and run off with them becoming over stimulated by the child's gurgling, shouts or yells.
Here are a few guidelines to follow, whether you have a puppy or a recently acquired adult dog, in order not to cause any problems in the relationship between him and your children.
- Keep your dog's toys out of his reach reach so he does not have constant access to them. By doing this he is only allowed to play at the invitation of an adult, which will in turn teach him that the child's toys are also inaccessible unless by invitation of an adult. You only want the puppy to play with its own toys and only under adult supervision.
- It is very difficult to teach a child how to approach and interact with a dog but a child as young as 2 years can be taught not to abuse or hurt a dog or a puppy. The child needs to be taught not to pinch, poke his eyes, pull his fur or his tail or kick the dog. It is also extremely important that you teach the child not to squeal and run when the puppy or dog gets over-excited—it is at this point that the supervising adult should step in and give both parties some “Time Out”! These lessons should be taught during supervised contact sessions. Giving a young child constant access to a dog or puppy is a "time bomb" waiting to happen.
- Let the dog have an area where it can settle and be left without interruptions i.e., a baby gate across a kitchen, a playpen or indoor kennel. He needs his own special place so he does not have constant access to people and children do not have constant access to the dog. Remember that any misunderstandings between your dog and the children are ultimately the adults responsibility and it is your responsibility to ensure that no such "misunderstandings" occur. If you lay down the initial ground rules from the first day then your dog will become a faithful companion for all the family for years to come.
Remember, no small child should ever be left unsupervised with ANY dog.
Please remember to contact the centre staff for advice if you have any concerns or need any advice or support whilst settling in your new family member.