The family dog. A symbol of loyalty and trust. Mans best friend. Toddler’s nemesis. The typical family has one. No, probably both. The toddler and the dog. Herein lies the problem.
For whatever reason, the toddler hates the dog. And you are trying to figure out why. The relationship between child and dog should be one of mutual love and, of course, the safety benefit.
Is there something missing? Is there an evident reason as to why the toddler hates the dog? Perhaps we can address those issues for you. Perhaps not. Either way, these are some good tips on why your toddler may hate the family dog and how to fix the problem.
I don’t think giving the toddler a few dog biscuits to chew on will help the situation.
Who Came First?
A simple way to begin looking into the situation could be by answering a question. Which one was there first?
If the dog has been around longer than the toddler, it shouldn’t be a problem. You may have had the dog for several years. The introduction of a child to the family is relatively easy.
The dog sees the opportunity for more petting, more love, and more food. Toddlers tend to have the dog sitting under their high-chair at mealtime. A dog will keep those dropped food items all squeaky clean. Clean for a dog.
So the new addition poses no actual threat to the dog. The dog may try to get between you and the child. After all, you are giving all the love to someone other than him!
Now the other side of the equation. Let’s say you get the toddler a new dog for his or her first or second birthday. Remember, it was your idea.
Prepare yourself for a few issues. For starters, don’t be shocked when the toddler whacks the dog because they feel threatened—threatened of what you ask? All of your attention, of course!
Small children and even older children thrive on attention. They seek mom and dad’s approval on everything. “Watch me” is one of the first words they learn. Those words are their way of seeking and getting you to pay attention to what is important to them. How many times have you heard a small child say, “watch me, right now!”
Their world stops on a dime to get your approval and your permission to move forward. And you should pay attention and cooperate with their wishes. It’s part of how they will seek you out in the future when stuff becomes a bit more complicated. So follow through.
A new pet, however, is a threat to their system of checks and balances with you. The new pet requires attention. And they are not receiving the attention you are showing the dog. Don’t be surprised when the child acts out because of the dog. It’s inevitable.
Take a look at the situation. Is the presence of the dog causing there to be a rift between you and your child? The child will not like the dog, and the dog won’t understand why.
Is The Dog a Puppy or an Adult?
If you go to the local animal shelter and rescue an adult dog, I salute you. The act you performed by the rescuing is to be commended. But maybe the size of the dog will frighten the child.
If your new dog has had a tough life on the streets, it may be a bit defensive at first. A dog growling and showing its teeth is a scary thing. The toddler may respond with hate towards the dog. And the dog could retaliate.
Be very careful, bringing an adult dog to a strange new family with a toddler. They simply may not be compatible.
Puppies and Small Children
If your rescued animal is a puppy, you may have more success. Puppies and babies who grow up together tend to do better. A good time to get a puppy is soon after the child is born. They get to grow together and form a bond. And you wanted them to bond in the first place.
There is nothing more precious than a picture of a baby with a puppy. It’s a whole lot of cuteness!
Lead By Example
Show your toddler how to treat the dog. Spend lots of time with both. Show the child how to pet the dog and how to love it. Perhaps the child hasn’t been shown how to act around a dog.
And show the dog how the baby poses no threat to him. You may need to spend a set amount of time with the two daily. Soon the right behaviors begin to take form.
Before you know it, the dog may have two best friends, you and the child. Should the dog try to get between you and your child, be very careful how you handle the problem?
Remember, the dog is just like a child. It wants attention, and by getting between you, he is saying, “Hey, what about me?” If you don’t show the dog some attention, they could get rough, and the child could hate them for it.
Should you happen to catch the child being mean to the dog, respond accordingly. Teach the child about the importance of loving the dog, just like they love other things. Show them they and the dog are equally important to you.
Give them both time alone together. Just be sure to remain close enough should your guidance be needed. Give both child and dog every opportunity to get to know each other, and hopefully, the problem will resolve itself.
Don’t be the parent who deprives the child of having a pet. So many of life’s lessons can be learned by having a pet. Just make sure there are no issues between them and closely supervise their initial time together.
And give lots of love and affection to the child and the dog!