How Can Kids and Dogs Play Safely Together?

Owning a dog brings a lot of affection and fun into your life, and growing up with a friendly dog is tons of fun for kids. While you already know how cute and cuddly a dog can be, you may be surprised to find out that growing up with a pooch can actually have some great health and psychological benefits for children. Although dogs often tend to be more tolerant around children, it’s still important to make sure you’re taking some safety precautions when kids and dogs play together.

Benefits of Kids and Dogs Interacting 

Having a family dog benefits a child’s emotional intelligence, offers health benefits, and even may help calm children with hyperactivity or other special needs. Just a few of the benefits of kids and dogs interacting include:

  • Improved Cognitive Skills – Research suggests that when kids talk to pets, it can improve their cognitive skills.
  • Greater Activity Levels – Having a dog around encourages kids to be more active, and learn to enjoy being outdoors and appreciate nature.
  • Less Stress – Playing with fido lowers cortisol levels, decreasing stress in a child’s life. It can also raise dopamine and serotonin levels, improving mood and calming the mind.

  • Relationship Building Skills – Kids who become emotionally attached to dogs often find it easier to build relationships with people. Studies have shown that children who own pets have more empathy and compassion.
  • Improved Self Esteem – When kids are given tasks to do to help in the care of a pet, it improves self-esteem while teaching them responsibility.
  • Fun and Joy – Having a dog can also bring a lot of fun and joy to not only the child’s life, but the lives of parents and the dog. Just check out this YouTube video, Kids and Dogs Growing Up Together as Best Friends, and you’ll see the proof of this beautiful relationship. 

Dogs are More Tolerant with Kids

Do dogs really understand a difference between adults and kids? If so, are they more tolerant with kids? Anecdotal evidence says yes! Just like dogs can sense the differences between other adult dogs and puppies, it’s very likely they do the same with adults and children. Children are viewed more like puppies, and dogs recognize kid-behavior as similar to puppy-behavior, such as high-pitched tones, climbing around, and running around. Dogs tend to be more tolerant with children, but choosing the right breed and training the dog and children in proper interaction is still crucial.

Tips for Safe Interaction Between Kids and Dogs 

Although dogs can encourage exercise, provide kids with affection, and even help them develop a sense of responsibility, there’s still a potential for danger when kids and dogs interact. However, by following a few important safety tips, you can add man’s best friend to your family and keep everyone safe.

Tip #1 – Teach Children Acceptable Behavior – If kids haven’t been around dogs, they may not know how to behave appropriately with a pet. This means you’ll need to teach your children about acceptable behavior with a pet. 


Tip #2 – Set Some Rules Together – When you’re ready to get a dog for the family, sit down with your kids and set some rules together. While kids may already know they shouldn’t kick, hit, or be cruel to a pet, you may need to remind them to avoid bothering a dog that is sleeping, guarding a toy, or eating.

Tip #3 – Don’t Leave Young Children and Dogs Together Unattended – It’s never a good idea to leave children and dogs together unattended, especially babies and toddlers. Parents can quickly get busy and be unaware of what pets and kids are doing, so make sure there’s always adult supervision.

Tip #4 – Train Your Pet – You’re teaching your kids about boundaries with a dog, so you also need to set boundaries for your pet and train him to follow them. Training can vary depending on the breed of dog, so research your breed of dog to figure out the best way to establish rules for behavior in your home.



Tip #5 – Keep Up Your Dog’s Exercise Routine – A dog that doesn’t get enough exercise can be overly excited and hyperactive, and this can be dangerous for children, particularly smaller kids who are easily knocked down. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise for his age, breed, and weight to improve behavior.

Adding a pooch to your family offers many benefits to you and your children, and before you know it, fido will be a special part of the family. Just be sure to take the time to train both your children and your dog how to interact with one another properly so you enjoy the benefits of a family dog safely.

 

References:
“Children can improve reading skills by reading to therapy dogs“ http://times-herald.com/news/2017/09/children-can-improve-reading-skills-by-reading-to-therapy-dogs
“The Effects of Animals on Children's Development of PerspectiveTaking
Abilities“ https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1158&context=open_access_etds
“Days spent reading to dogs during summer may help avoid decline of reading skills“ https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/tuhs-dsr081011.php