LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Raising a baby or young child with a dog at home can be enjoyable or a daunting task. How do you know if a certain dog will be a good fit for your little ones? One mother said she recently introduced a puppy to her children.
“I got him when he was eight weeks so he was still small, hyper,” mother Aleysia Kyle said.
Kyle has a 6-year-old and 2-year-old. She felt that having a dog that’s well trained was a priority. “Once he got older and he’s getting bigger and with the jumping, it made ‘em a little standoffish a little bit,” Kyle said. Kyle said she knew the process was going to take work. "I knew it just came with training and him being obedient and him being able to be around the girls and the girls being able to be comfortable around him,” Kyle said.
K-9 Experience dog trainer Calvin Wilbon helps families with the introduction process. He said the most important part starts before you bring a pet home.
“If you do have a child that’s just outgoing and super, super, super active then that overreactive dog or puppy wouldn’t be a good fit if you’re not seeking professional help. If you do get a puppy that’s let’s say medium drive that will best fit,” Wilbon said.
A dog with what he calls ‘medium drive’ won’t be as reactive if a child’s toy rolls by or if a child accidentally steps on its tail. The Humane Society estimates 51 percent of dog bite victims are children, citing the main reason being children don’t recognize warning signs.
Because of this, it’s important to find a dog that’s a good fit.
“People who lounge around all day we want them to have a dog that is going to mimic their behavior. And so, we don’t want a slow-paced baby with a high energy dog,” K-9 Experience owner and head trainer Cecil Brannon said.
Part of the process entails working with the dog, so it becomes more comfortable around your children.
“Realize that you cannot control a kid from being a kid and a dog from being a dog, right? So, therefore, you want to make sure that you’re putting yourself in situations to where you control the environment,” Wilbon said.
Whether you’re introducing a new baby to an existing family pet or are bringing a new pet home, the initial meeting is important.
“You don’t want the child on the ground meeting the dog for the first time you never know what the child may do you never know what the dog may do,” Wilbon said. Wilbon recommends a sitting technique, but this one is for parents.
“If the child was by herself then he's probably getting too excited, knock her over. But by her being in the lap the mom is able to, you know, keep her hands out, pet on the dog and make sure that she has control of the environment,” Wilbon said.
He also said dogs must be trained boundaries to protect them and your children.
“We have a placemat that we use and if the dog understands to go to its place and to stay there then you can have the child to move around, walk around, and the dog understands to stay there,” Wilbon said. So, whether your child is running around or you’re doing chores, your pet will know to calm down on command. “The family system operates a lot better when the dog is obedient,” Brannon said.
With the right pet and repetitive training, your pet can become your child’s best pal.