Sunday, September 5, 2010

Properly introducing your child to a dog

It is now September 5 and still no puppy.   Pumpkin was predicted to give birth between the first and the ninth of September and it seems to be she is holding out to the very end.  With all the excitement of awaiting a new puppy I feel like a first time dog owner.  Feels like there is still so much to get done. Where will this puppy sleep, what brand of dog food will I use.  And by the way nothing has changed since I last wrote, no name picked out yet.  I dont remember being this anxious when I was pregnant.

       This puppy is going to be big from the very beginning and it is important to establish the pack order from the very start.  What may seem cute and adorble now can quickly become dangerous as that 8 pound puppy rapidly grows to eighty pounds or more.  I have always loved big dogs. I have had Bull mastiffs and have a goofy pitbull german shepherd mix who lives with my younger siblings and my parents.  Big dogs have a scary reputation that often precedes them.  Yet many studies have showed that the majority of dog bites reported in the U.S are from small breeds. Several years in a row the popular Cocker Spaniel has been number one on those lists as most likely to bite!

 Yet it is crucial to know that there are no bad breeds.  whether your dog is big or small as an pet parent you have the responsibility to teach your dog proper "manners" and create an enviornment where your dog will look to you for direction rather than taking it upon themselves to attack someone around them.
            It may be easier to fear a big dog such as a pitbull over fearing a small chihuaha, but both animals deserve the same respect.  when approached the wrong way or made to feel threatened they may react instinctivly.  the important thing to remember is that given the right training and successfully establishing yourself and the humans in your pack as the leaders you greatly reduce the chance that your pet will opt to bite when in an uncomfortable situation.

         Yet not all the training should be done on the pet, most of the training should be directed on the humans in the pack.  If you have children teach them early to respect the animals in their household.  this lesson will stay with them and may help them learn to cope with others around them too. 
Children and especial very young children are fearless and may not know how to approach a dog in the first place.  There have been plenty of times where when walking my dog a young child will run up and attempt to pet him.  The parent who is already not even close enough to hold the child up if the encounter turns ugly simply smiles back.   We must think of dogs as furry energy readers.  They access their situations by reading the energy of those around them. And chidlren emit a lot of energy, out of control excitement kind of energy which can make some dogs nervous. 

 Steps to approaching a dog on the street:

Step one: First a child should always be supervised when playing with a dog

Step two: Always ask if the animal is friendly and ask for permission to approach the dog

Step three: once you have established it is ok with the owner to touch the animal make sure it is ok with the dog too

*Important* if the animals fur is standing up on its back, its ears down and its tail tucked within its legs DO NOT allow your child to continue to approach this animal

 Step four: if all seems well have your child hold her hand out slowly with her palm open and face up and have her wait patiently for the dog to appoach her, have her hold her hand lower than the dogs snout some dogs feel intimidated to be pet over their head.

Lastly enjoy as you have shown your child to be respectable and responsible and procative in preventing dog bites.

So you see these are the new challenges I face this time around as I become a puppy parent again. I will face the huge responsibility of introducing this new puppy to my still so new home consisting of a newly wed husband a scruffy jack russell and a toddling toddler . I can only sit back and wonder what adventures lie ahead. so Pick your favorite spot on the couch curl up to your favorite furry friend and continue reading and dont be shy any and all suggestions are welcome. Oh and dont forget I still have no name for this much anticipated puppy.

Here is a link to an article which I feel truly describes an appropriate way to teach your child how to approach an unkown dog. Hope you find it helpful

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