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Canine University 71 Clinton St. Malden, MA

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Three Dogs and TWO Babies: Kids, Dogs, and Fun!!

Fostering a good relationship between your child and your dog is time well spent. The more your dog associates your child with good things the quicker their friendship will blossom.

It's never too early to do this, in fact you can start it right away with your newborn. Keep cookies in a jar on the changing table or wherever you feed the baby and give one to your dog each time you change a diaper or feed a bottle.

As your child grows, include your dog in as many activities as you can. To avoid competition, have separate areas of your home for dogs only (like your dog's bed or crate) and kids only (a playpen or gated room). This way your child and your dog can take a break from each other when they need to.

All child/dog interactions should be monitored closely and should be relatively short. Make rules about what is allowed and what is not. For instance your child should not be bothering the dog while he is eating, chewing on a bone or sleeping. Even if your dog tolerates being bothered at these times, your toddler may try to pester someone else's dog who isn't tolerant and may incur a nasty bite. Teaching your child how to behave around dogs is an important lesson that she will take with her throughout her life.

Interactions between toddlers and dogs should last only a few minutes at a time so as not to stress the dog too much. Limited contact at first will help your dog realize that your child is not going to hurt or annoy him and that you are there to intervene if he should.

As your child grows he can take responsiblity for some of you dogs care. Even a 2 yr old can help scoop out your dog's food and put it in a bowl or give a cookie.

Playtime can be fun for dogs and kids but both parties have to be taught how to play together. A small child can roll or throw a ball or hide a treat for his dog to find. Hide and seek with Mom or Dad to help can also be a great game, treats can be used to help your dog learn to "find" your child. As your child develops language skills you can have him help you train your dog to sit or down/stay or to come when called.

If Timmy and Lassie is what you had in mind for your child and dog's friendship but your household is more like s three-ring circus, don't despair... with a little child and dog training, lots of supervision and lots of patience your twosome can be a dynamic duo too.

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