Read a dog - Grow up with dogs

'No!' it sounds hard from Black's little child's body, just before setting a throat. Her mother looks tired. Toddler puberty has its disadvantages. Then Merels falls on the dog that runs across the street. She spontaneously forgets that she did not want to hold mom's hand when crossing. Her mother sees this opportunity, puts out her hand and says, "Come on, hand, then we cross over to the dog."
Merel grabs her mother's hand and her eyes glisten as they get closer to the dog.

Children benefit from growing up with dogs

Dogs are part of our society. Children grow up with dogs, even if they do not meet there, at home or with friends. After all, dogs belong to the streets. You meet them on the way to school, the groceries, in the park, in the forest.
Growing up with a dog has many advantages for children. Children find support and feel understood, especially in awkward situations (for example in divorce situations or when a child is being bullied). A dog is a constant factor and a 'friend' who does not judge. Many children share their secrets with their domestic dog.
In addition, children are taught how to relate to another person and their wishes and needs when they are being guided in the right way. Their sense of responsibility and awareness can increase by living together with the dog.

Growing up with a dog

There are, however, conditions attached to let the growing up with a dog turn out positive. First of all, there must be rules for both dog and child. Living rules that promote proper interaction. That includes, for example, that a child learns what boundaries the animal has, how they can be recognized and respected. What is allowed and what is not allowed in the vicinity of a dog?
When Merel gets older and loves dogs, for example, it is important to teach her not to approach every dog โ€‹โ€‹without being asked. If she were to become somewhat anxious about dogs, she would have to learn how to deal with that.

Who is responsible for the care?

In addition, it is important that when buying a dog in a family it is clear to the parents that they take care of the animal. A dog takes time, at least two hours a day. A dog needs education. An upbringing that must be as consistent as that of children. Children can not yet independently take care of a dog. They must be involved in the education of the dog. And will learn a lot from that. But the responsibility and care rests on the shoulders of the parents.
An appropriate choice for the family is also important. Choosing a dog on the outside is fun when it is a plush specimen that is nicely on the couch or fits with the rug. Is it a real dog? Then the choice should be based mainly on characteristics of the animal and on the care requirements that the type or breed sets.

The wolf in dog clothes

A dog is a group animal. That is precisely why he can adapt so well to family life. However, precisely because of this, he will use his body to show family members how he feels, or what he wants. (Young) children do not recognize these signals and therefore quickly cross the boundaries of the animal. This can lead to fear, pressure, or aggression in the animal. Aggression is a means for a dog to defend himself and / or to secure the things he needs to survive. To survive, he has the instinct to hunt and sharp teeth.


The dog that comes to live in a family must be a supplement to the family and fit the requirements that a family with children poses to the dog. Dogs with a large prey drift and a low biting threshold, such as terriers bred to destroy vermin, are not immediately a good first choice. A dog with a stable and soft character that does not get busy quickly or reacts violently to what is happening around him, generally fits better with a family.
Every dog โ€‹โ€‹must learn to deal well with children and society and in addition be educated in what is and is not allowed in the human world. Just as important is it to teach children what they can and can not do in the pet's environment and to ensure that the rules of life are being adhered to.

What a child can and can not do in the neighborhood of dogs

First of all, it is important to teach children to leave dogs alone if there is no parent / guardian and owner of the dog in the neighborhood. Many dogs are not used to children and can not deal well with them. There are also dogs that are old, visually impaired (and therefore scaring) or that have pain. Their reaction can then be far from pleasant for the child approaching the animal.

Always permission

If the parent / guardian and owner of the dog find contact with a child with a dog, then the child must always request permission from the dog. At the place where the child stands, it sticks his hand down. It then waits for the animal to approach that hand. If the dog comes quietly to the child (preferably with a relaxed, broad, low waggon), then let him sniff his hand. Possibly short stroking under the chin or behind the ear. Not cuddling or petting over the head, dogs do not like that. Long stroking is also unpleasant for him.

Being a tree

Is a child afraid of dogs? Then 'being a tree' can be a good handle. This means: standing very still with the arms crossed over the chest and looking at the feet. 'Being a tree' is a good technique for every child to master. Because the child stands still and the dog does not look, a scared animal will bite less quickly, a busy animal will lose interest after some time and the child will not provoke any prey behavior (by running or screaming). If a child is lying on the floor and something happens, then it can learn to become a 'stone': raising legs and putting hands on the head.

Do not run or scream

In dogs in the home, a child may not run or scream. Busy games are played in a different room than where the dog is. Child and dog should never be left alone. Dogs react differently to children when there is an adult and children can suddenly get a nice idea for a game that is not fun for the animal at all. The dog in another room, young children in the box, a fence and clear agreements are all tools that make life easier and safer.

Prevent competition

Prevent competition between child and dog and learn to read what the animal tells with its body language. Does he feel at ease in a certain situation? Or would he rather not want something and does he feel uncomfortable? A good dog school or association can help with learning to read dogs. A nice book is: 'Do I understand my dog' by Gootjes and Gaus.
Hygiene is also part of it. Wash hands after contact with the dog, before eating and after playing outside.
When a good choice is made for the dog that can deal with children, clear rules are drawn up and maintained and sufficient time is made for dogs and children, children will not only learn a lot from dogs, but also make friends for life.

Tips - Fun things for children to do with dogs

It is fun for kids and dogs if they can interact with each other in a positive way. For example, let the children hide a number of dog toys while the dog is in another room or is being held by an adult. When it's hidden, you can start looking. Give to an adult in exchange for something tasty.
You can also choose to let the children hide themselves. One by one the children may call the name of the dog. When he is with them, they drop a dog biscuit for him on the floor. If the dog understands the game, you can drop the call.


Finally, many children are fond of teaching tricks to the dog. Of course, these must be safe for both parties. For example, the dog can learn to crawl through the grass. You can also find nice ideas in the book 'My dog โ€‹โ€‹as a comrade' by Martin Gaus. At more and more dog schools and clubs, children can also go to learn how to deal with dogs or to go on a course with their own dog.

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