Do young children need to be taught how to get on with pets?

Part of growing up and passing through childhood is understanding how to deal with social relationships. But should these relationships be restricted purely to other children and adults?

A lot of children have a fear of animals, and in particular dogs, and potentially this could come back and bite them (quite literally) when they get older. If your child does not know how to  behave around dogs, and doesn’t feel comfortable and confident, the dog will sense this, and something unexpected may happen.

You can start to familiarise your child with dogs at a very early age. If you have a family pet, this can be from the moment your baby comes home from the hospital.

When you arrive home with your new arrival, place him in the middle of your lounge in his carry seat, and call your dog over. This will be good for the dog, and avoid him being jealous, and make him see your baby as a friend and not a threat. It will also be good for your baby as he will immediately get used to being around your pet.

If you do not have a family dog, when you meet other peoples dogs, encourage your child to stroke them and throw a ball for them. Your child will love it, the dog will love it, and your child will be learning how to interact with another living being who is not human.

He will be learning that the dynamic between humans and dogs is different to that which he has with you and other people. Of course always be careful what breed of dog it is, and how well you know the owners. But if the dog is loved and well trained, it will be fine and you will be helping your child with his relationship interaction skills for the rest of his life.