When my daughter entered our family, my wife and I wondered how our dogs would react to having a new member of our clan. We have a pug and a toy fox terrier, and they are both very needy, as most dogs are, and were used to getting a lot of attention. While my wife was still in the hospital after my daughter arrived, I took some of the socks and clothes my daughter had been wearing at the hospital home for the dogs to smell, in an attempt to introduce them to her scent. But of course when we finally brought my daughter home there was some jealousy of the attention being lavished upon her, and confusion on the part of our dogs as to why they weren’t getting the same amount of one on one time they had been getting in the past. We knew that once my daughter got older, they would all be best friends, but it has been a work in progress.
Finally my daughter has reached the age where she is interacting with our dogs quite a bit. In fact, she calls out their names, runs after them, and even sits in their dog bed with them like it’s a sofa. And when she’s upset I’ve found that all I have to do is say to her, “Let’s go find Paddi” (the toy fox terrier), and she immediately forgets her troubles, starts saying Paddi’s name, and takes off after her. I’m not sure if Paddi enjoys this, but we all have to make sacrifices sometimes, so for the time being she’ll just have to deal with it.
This new interaction is a lot of fun for my daughter, and sometimes for the dogs, but we’ve also had to teach her the proper way to pet and touch them. Walking up to our pug and hitting her on her back is not okay, nor is grabbing her tail. And our little toy fox terrier, while excitable and active, does not want to have her face and ears grabbed or smacked. Mostly this appears to be a result of excitement on my daughter’s part, and not completely understanding how to control it. She has been getting better at petting and patting both dogs in a gentle manner in recent weeks and days, but she’s still in the learning phase.
Overall, the relationship between the dogs and my daughter is coming together. Even though she can be annoying to them, they don’t mind her sitting in their bed with them, and will often come over to her to smell and lick her, which makes her squeal with delight. Sometimes they even lick her feet which makes her laugh hysterically. And now that it’s warm out, she’s begun to enjoy running around with them on our deck, or in our back yard. I’m thinking that soon they’ll be best friends just as we envisioned.
As soon as she removes smacking, grabbing and tail pulling from her repertoire.
Check out some of these books in our collection that deal with the relationship between little ones and pets:
Can We Have One? A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids with Cats and Dogs by Lynn F. Buzhardt & Sue D. Steib
Raising Puppies and Kids Together: A Guide for Parents by Pia Silvani & Lynn Eckhardt