kids and dogs friendship
Parenting

How to Cultivate a Friendship Between Your Kids and Dogs

Getting a dog is most kid’s cherished dream. How often did/have your kids said to you ‘can we get a puppy’? It’s as if they know the huge benefits a dog could bring to their lives, and they look forward to having a new best friend. Many parents have very fond memories of their own dog. A companion that they could rely on when they were down, someone to explore the world with and discover new things and someone to share confidences with – even though they know that the dog doesn’t understand. Who wouldn’t want that for their own kid?

A loving friendship with a family dog can have a massive impact on a child’s wellbeing and it can help to teach them compassion, respect, behavioural awareness and patience. Interacting with a dog is known to boost a child’s self-confidence and mood, plus it can help develop vital communication skills. Similarly, there are so many positive life skills a child can learn when they take responsibility for certain aspects of your dog’s care. These experiences can help them grow into a conscientious, kind and responsible person. 

On the other hand, if your child has found it difficult to form that bond with your dog, it can be quite hurtful and frustrating for them. Luckily, there are some simple steps that you can take to build that doggie relationship with your child.

Dogs and their favourites

It’s often assumed that simply by buying, or adopting, a dog a close bond will automatically form between it and your kids and that they will then enjoy all of the benefits offered by a great canine relationship. Too often, though, that isn’t the case, and your kids may feel that your dog is very much yours rather than theirs. They certainly won’t view it as their ‘best friend’.

The way dogs behave, including how they interact with individual humans, is influenced by their past experiences, positive or negative. In simple terms, if a dog has had lots of great experiences with you, they may well gravitate towards you over other people in the household.

Think about how you interact with your dog. Do you spend a lot of time with one another? Are you the one to feed your dog? Have you been responsible for your dog’s training? Do you go out and exercise your dog and play with them more than other family members? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then this probably explains why you’re the favourite. Even more so if you have lots of great experiences with dogs and feel pretty clued up when it comes to training and how your dog is feeling.

Once a routine has been established and roles are defined, it’s sometimes easier to approach dog care with a business-as-usual attitude. I get that. Us parents lead busy lives and involving children in looking after your dog can seem like an unnecessary hassle. The thing is, it doesn’t need to be a hassle and it is necessary for your kid to take an active part.

Fostering a bond between dogs and children

For a child to form a friendship with their dog, they need to be given the right tools and knowledge to interact with them safely. 

Sharing responsibilities

A great first step is to start sharing responsibilities. As I mentioned before, I know this isn’t the most time-effective of undertakings, but it will pay dividends.

Try introducing your child to the feeding routine – perhaps they could take responsibility for one feed a day or at the weekends. Guide them through each step and, depending on their age, give them the freedom to take responsibility themselves when they’re ready to.

Encourage your child to join you on dog walks. Children love to get outdoors and explore new environments. You could even think of ways to make dog walks more fun and keep your child engaged. Think games and new tricks taught through rewards-based training.

Developing an understanding

Strong relationships are based on communication, but dogs speak a very special language that humans can’t understand without the right know-how. In fact, this is where many kids struggle the most. They can’t figure out why their dog shies away from them, or growls at them or behaves in an unexpected way. This is because they don’t know that their dog is trying to tell them that they are uncomfortable with a particular situation. If this happens often then neither kid or dog trusts the other and both start to be wary of each other.

I’m a firm believer that canine body language is something all dog owners should understand, including children. This is why members of the Kool K9 Kids Club get access to extensive canine body language training inside the club. Not only can this vital knowledge help children interact safely with dogs, but it can give them a huge confidence boost and break down any barriers between them and their furry friend.

Fun ideas and making time for each other

Children typically lead busy lives, what with school, homework, play dates and extra-curricular activities, and these distractions can get in the way of spending quality time with their canine pal. 

Many parents forget to encourage bonding time between their child and the family dog. This might be because they don’t know how to encourage safe interaction, or because they simply don’t realise what an astoundingly positive impact it can have.

Dogs and children can form beautiful friendships and make precious memories together that will last a lifetime – it’s just a question of making time and thinking outside the box. This is where Kool K9 Kids Club comes into play, where there are over 500 activities to get your child started on this amazing journey together with your dog.

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5 Comments

  1. One of the best things I remember from my childhood was our wonderful family dog, Jessie. It taught me so much and I am thankful for it everyday — thanks for sharing this post, it was really interesting to read.

  2. This is an excellent post, and dogs are the perfect companion for young children. Thank you for sharing! Also, check out some of our most recent posts at http://www.rockingspecterblog.wordpress.com.

  3. I loved reading this post!

    I had a family dog for about 11 years, he was a rescue dog and gave us many years of happiness and companionship.

    There was a rocky start with him when we were kids because his start in live had been quite traumatic but he found his feet and began to trust us.

    There’s a fine balance.

  4. I couldn’t imagine my childhood without our wee dog and I truly believe that all kids need some sort of animal in their life! Dogs especially are so good for children’s mental and emotional development.

  5. Great post! We always had dogs growing up and they are the best partners in crime 🙂

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