Today, a cold snap outside drove puppies solely indoors, and children home for the holiday got to spend a little time adoring and being adored by Ranger.
Play is a great way for kids and dogs to interact because it associates children with happiness! Just make sure the players don’t get each other too excited, and always be vigilant for signs that the dog is ‘finished’. I am a huge proponent of constant safety measures when kids and dogs are involved, so I actively supervised the antics, but Ranger remained true to his sweet Labrador personality and soaked up the attention from the kiddos without a flicker of stress.
Not sure if your dog actually likes your kids? Here are some definite signs that he is uncomfortable. Tension in the body is no good; happy dogs are loose and curvy and floppy. Also remember that just because a hug, pat, screech, or other interaction is intended with love does not mean that a dog will understand. Even good dogs can be stressed out by little kids doing normal little kid things. Heck, I’ve had four little kids and I get stressed out by them doing normal little kid things all the time.
I’ll provide a more in-depth post on children, dogs and safety in the coming weeks.
We also played a little “babies give out hot dogs!” just to continue building a positive association with the new screamy humanling. Although it may seem unnatural or silly to pair a baby with hot dogs, the reality is that dogs are learning from their environments every second – Ranger would be learning some type of association no matter what. It’s better to actively make some of those associations HAPPY DOG THINGS YES HOT DOG HAPPY than to just assume the dog will like the baby automatically.
If you don’t happen to have a baby on hand, you can apply this same concept out to introducing your dog to any sort of new Thing (gramma with a walker, fire hydrant, scary loud truck, cats, Daleks). Don’t require a certain behavior; just reward, reward, reward and your dog will learn that the Thing must be a pretty good Thing because it may smell weird and move weird but it gives me hot dogs.
We did some other training as well, but I’ll post on that tomorrow since it will need its own space.
Overall a happy day, happy dog, happy family!