4 Tips on Children and Senior Dogs
Your senior dog is apart of your family. So are you children. Unfortunately senior dogs and children don’t tend to operate on the same wavelength.
Children and Senior Dogs. Below are four tips on facilitating a peaceful coexistence between your senior dog and your children.
1. The dog is always right
My mom used to tell me this when I was a child. We had a cat that lived to be 21-years-old, and no matter what happened, the cat was always right. Your senior dog deserves this same respect. Kids will be kids, but kids, unlike dogs, are human. Even as children, human’s cognitive abilities outrank that of most animals. Sure, dogs are able to follow commands and learn new tricks, but are they able to understand the repercussions of their actions? Maybe they can to a small extent, but that extent pales next to a human’s comprehension. Learning that there are consequences to one’s actions is an imperative part of childhood. If your child grabs your senior dog’s sore paw, your dog will react. He is not wrong to do so. He reacted not because he was unprovoked, but because your child hurt him. Older dogs are not puppies. They do not spring back the way young dogs do. Senior dogs can have a host of age related aliments, including, but not limited to, arthritis, stiffness, pain, loss of hearing, loss of vision, sensitive skin, bad joints, and more. Senior dogs, like grandparents, cannot keep up with children. Your children do not wrestle with their grandparents for a reason – your children can hurt their grandparents. The same is true regarding your senior dog. Children can, on purpose and by accident, hurt your older dog. Senior dogs deserve respect. It is up to you, the owner, to make sure they are given the respect they deserve. Your children need to know that the dog is always right.
2. Within reason
It would be wrong to say that you should let your dog bite your children in order to teach your children to respect her. If you know that your dog is in a lot of pain, or that she gets stressed out very easily, you need to adjust. If your children are unable to refrain from harassing your dog, and you know your dog will react and potentially injure them, your children cannot be around your dog. Perhaps your dog is wary of children and when children are around your dog is on edge. Your dog, therefore, needs her own space. This does not mean she should be punished because the kids are around. It is not her fault that small children make her uncomfortable. Perhaps a child once hurt her, albeit accidently, but it doesn’t matter. Dogs do not understand that a child could ‘accidently’ be too rough with them. What they do understand is that once a child did hurt them and it could happen again. Your dog will defend herself if necessary. You need to make this clear to your children, but you also need to protect your children, and your dog.
3. Monitor your children’s behavior
Kids are curious; it’s how they learn. Dogs are cool to kids. Kids want to play with dogs; they want to be your dog’s friend. How they try to become friends with your dog should be watched. A child might not comprehend that that touching your dog while she is sleeping in her crate is an invasion of her space. Kids do not understand what it means to be old. They don’t understand why your dog would be in pain after sleeping. Things like cataracts and arthritis mean nothing to a child. All the child knows is that your dog is soft and they want to play and be friends with her. Make sure your child’s actions towards your dog are acceptable. If your child is petting your dog, how are they petting her? Are they being gentle or are they hurting your dog? Is your child harassing your dog or is your child playing nice? Learn how your child interacts with your dog.
4. Correct any misbehaviors
Let’s say your child pets your older dog with too much force. Your child isn’t going to learn that he or she should be gentler unless you tell them so. You need to be the one to correct behavior. If you leave it up to your dog, your dog might snap at your child, hurting him or her, or your dog might do nothing, resulting in your dog getting hurt. Teach your children to read and understand your dog. Teach them to recognize when your dog is happy and when she is upset and does not want to ‘play’. If your children understand your dog’s moods, and your children understand that the dog is always right, your children and your senior dog will get along.