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Sometimes You Just Have to Ask the Experts: Training Tips With Sandi (This Week: Kids and Dogs")

Not long ago, we had the opportunity to chat with Sandi Strause from Silver Paws Dog Training (actually, we communicated through a letter taped to a box of food for her; how old school are we?), with some questions that we wanted answered; not from just the regular gals at the Pet Food Store, but from someone who has earned the status of expert in her field.

We came up with a couple of topics to cover, and have divided this content into separate posts.

This week's first post will cover some important things to consider if you have children at home with your pets: for their safety and your pet's. We hear pet parents say often that "their dog doesn't mind when the child tugs on their ears, or sits on them", but we want to put out our PSA that just because the dog tolerates it, does not mean the dog enjoys it. We hate to say it, but we see and hear of many instances where a child is injured because they were not taught how to properly approach, or handle an animal, often leading to some very sad circumstances for the dog. So without further ado, here are some of our Questions to Sandi!

1) What are some things that pet parents need to consider when introducing children to a new pet OR a pet to a new baby?

Sandi: "Try not to make it a "big deal". New babies can be scary if the dog is not prepared. Show the dog the crib, baby toys etc. before the baby comes. Most importantly "involve" the dog. Let the dog sniff. Never leave a child unattended with a dog. Teach the children that the dog is not a toy and has feelings just like them. Respect is paramount."

2) Are there any strategies to help your pet cope if they become overwhelmed around children?

Sandi: "Let the kids know that chasing or grabbing at a dog that is overwhelmed is not okay. The dog will show when he/she is ready to approach"

3) Have you found any effective strategies for helping children cope with some of the more challenging behaviors of puppies (eg. biting, jumping)?

Sandi: "Children can learn the same strategies that are introduced in training classes. The kids can learn responsible pet care."

PS: If you're looking for training classes, Sandi's info is listed above:)

4) Is it ever ok for children to sit-on, ride, or tug on a dog, even if the pet seems okay with it?

Sandi: "NEVER, EVER, EVER!!!"

5) What are some general strategies you think are important for children to be aware of around dogs in general, even if it isn't their pet?"

Sandi: "Always ask the owner if you can pet their dog. Never strike out or hit a dog."

Finally, a couple of other reminders we'd like to throw in:

Dogs tend to match our energy, and toddlers and kids can be VERY energetic. It's very important to remind your children as soon as they are old enough that the more excited they get, the more excited the dog will get.

And, as adorable as a sleeping dog is, it is never wise to sneak up on a sleeping animal. Spooking a pet out of a peaceful slumber, may cause some reactivity, so always remind children of that, or, make sure your pet has a safe space to rest without fear of being startled awake.

Dogs and kids are a great combo. But, dogs can't talk and it is our job to advocate for them, respect their boundaries, and welcome and raise them in a home where they are safe and secure, just as we'd do for our children.

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