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Living with Dogs & Children

photo of a blond happy girl with her chihuahuaMost children love having dogs as pets. Inviting a dog into the family home can actually be healthy for your kids. Studies have shown that when a dog lives in a home with young children, the children experience fewer respiratory tract infections, less incidences of ear infections and less instances of asthma diagnoses than children in pet-free homes.

Yes, children and dogs usually make for a great combination. But living with both species can sometimes be a challenge for the adults in charge. It’s important to be sure both canine and humans are protected and safe in that shared environment.

Training Your Dog

Dogs need to be trained. When you bring a pet into the home, that animal becomes a member of the family, and there are rules laid down so everyone can happily co-exist. If you live in Madison or surrounding areas in north Alabama, Whitworth Animal Clinic provides positive dog training sessions in your own home.

Dogs need to learn some basic obedience commands such as sit, down, stay, leave it, and come. This allows both adults and children some firm control over your pet’s behaviors. When a child is eating, for example, you’ll want your dog to obey the command “stay” or whichever word you’ve chosen so Fido isn’t tempted to steal food.

When your dog and young child are playing together, it’s wise to be present until you know your pet is trained to be gentle. Animals can get overexcited or disturbed when small children shriek and shout or pull a tail in play. Train your dog to get used to a variety of noises from when you first bring him home. For example, praise her and give a treat when you speak in a loud voice to her. Play a recording of children’s high-pitched voices as your dog is eating. He will then associate the sounds with something pleasant.

Educate Your Children

Teach your kids to respect their dog’s territorial limits. Remind them that dogs generally consider eyes staring into their own eyes to be a challenge. Have them learn that when the dog is playing with a toy and eating her meal, the child should not disturb things, come too close, or try to take either of these things away.

Children should also understand that dogs can act unpredictably when poked with a toy, pulled by the tail, or frightened. Your pet may put up with unexpected pinches and rough play now, but there’s no predicting when an aggressive reaction may occur. Teach your child to gently stroke your pet and involve children in the training process. You can begin by having them help teach the “sit” command.

Keep Your Dog Healthy

Whitworth Animal Clinic is a full-service center for pets. Veterinarian, Dr. Charles Whitworth, has been in practice since 1981, serving the communities of Madison, Huntsville, Decatur, and surrounding areas in north Alabama.

Whitworth Animal Clinic offers vaccinations, spay and neuter, and other wellness services for your pets. Veterinary cardiology, dentistry, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and many other medical issues can be diagnosed and treated at this facility. Pet boarding and grooming are also available.