Despite both having limited ways of verbally communicating, kids always have a special bond with their dog. And watching your kid play with the family pet brings a sense of peace and calmness to a home.

Often kids will even learn to say their dog’s name┬ábefore saying “Mommy”.

As for the dog’s part, it’s not uncommon to read stories about one protecting a baby from strangers or others who arouse suspicion.

When our kids spend time with dogs, it develops our children’s sense of caring at an early age. Though they might still not fully understand, they will know that it is important to care for dogs and not hurt or mistreat them.

Caring for a pet, which involves activities such as feeding, giving fresh water, walking and brushing, teaches children responsibility as well as patience, respect and kindness. Furthermore, shy children or those with behavioral issues or anxiety are able to hone their social skills or overcome difficulties like reading allowed by caring for the family pet.

With all this in mind, let’s look at how to create an environment where a boy and his dog can thrive together.

Supervision is paramount for little ones with dogs. The simple act of petting may be misinterpreted by a dog that was in a previously abusive home. Make sure your child understands to use the back of his hand stroking the back of the dog’s head toward the tail. This is often calming for the animal and teaches the child how to approach him in the least jarring way.

Or perhaps your dog is particularly territorial. In that case, you may need to guide your child toward more appropriate behavior when handling dog toys. If Underdog lunges for a kong toy or favorite doll, Billy should know to let it go because if Underdog gets upset, he may wake the neighborhood with his barking or even bite or nip at your child.

If you see the dog about to relieve himself on the living room rug or pacing the house in a way indicating he’s gotta go, show your child the signs to look out for so that he knows to either get you to help or open the slider to the backyard so he can do his business.

Children should also know when to call in the big guns (that’s you!) in the event of mess you need to handle. Hygiene is extremely important and although you want Billy to eventually be able to handle this type of situation on his own, as a small child this is a way to teach them basic ways to clean up the mess without transferring doggie doo germs to their hair, clothing or mouths inadvertently.

Giving a dog his space is another important lesson because some children can fixate on an animal to the point that your pet gets grouchy. Teach your child that it’s okay to give leave him alone to rest and sleep at various points throughout the day.

Children often learn confidence through pet ownership. Unlike most cats (please no harassing comments about how great your cat is), dogs tend to be interactive and playful sort of like human relationships without the back talk. In this way, developing a healthy relationship with your dog can serve your child as the gateway to a lifetime of fulfilling relationships. If nothing else, it can serve as a refuge for those times humans are just too difficult to deal with.

Do you have a great tip for teaching kids how to act around your pets or do you have a great child and dog story you’d like to share? Let us know below in the comments!

Read also: Little Chihuahua Born With Backward Legs Becomes A Feisty Little Pooch Who Loves To Play

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The basics of kid and dog bonding