Being a big dog in a little dog’s body has its benefits according to Vinnie and his other short buddy’s, they look ageless! Even when they are seventy-five in dog years (that’s ten to you and me) everyone looks at them and sees a cute puppy. As someone who regularly spends time with Vinnie, I have seen first-hand that this misunderstanding can sometimes cause confusion when we meet children out and about, they come bounding up to the “cute puppy” looking for cuddles, we get that some dogs are hard to resist.
However, this can be frightening for Vinnie and his friends and they may not react as you might expect them to, after all, we all have a bad day now and again. From our furry friends’ point of view, they don’t all understand a child’s energy or actions. There are many reasons for this they may live in a home with a pretty standard adult routine, they may be nervous, some are territorial and, well, some are just plain shy and don’t like being handled by strangers. Likewise, no matter how friendly your dog is, some kids aren’t confident around animals, some are scared, and others are too rough, so it takes effort on both sides to get to know each other properly.
To ensure smooth sailing on all sides it’s important to speak with parents and explain how to approach your pet or let them know that it is not appropriate if that is the case.
The bond between a pet and a child is a wonderful thing to see as we have witnessed it first-hand with many of our friends. However, introducing your pets to children and vice versa takes thought, care and work on all sides.
We would like to share some doggy do’s and don’ts as recommended by *The Kennel Club:
- Don’t play rough and aggressive games with your puppy as this can encourage aggressive behaviour later on
- Don’t play fight with each other or taunt a puppy to make it protective or jealous
- Don’t make face to face contact as most puppies dislike it unless they have instigated this themselves
- Don’t let children ambush or force themselves on a puppy, a puppy should want to play not be forced
- Children must be over 10 years old to be legally responsible for a dog outside their home
- Children should always learn to ask a dog owners permission before petting their dog
Living with dogs enriches children’s lives. Taking care of a dog is an excellent way of teaching a child to take responsibility, express empathy and have some fun. Dogs can also significantly help to raise self-esteem. It is the responsibly of adults and parents to ensure that these valuable child/dog relationships are nurtured so that each understands the other.
By Lorraine Byrne