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Dogs & Babies - Learn Together, Grow Together

Instead of discussing what you should and shouldn’t do raising dogs and children together (I have a seminar for that), I would like to explore their relationships. The way kids and dogs grow together and interact with one another, how they complement each other at different life stages over the years, and the joy that can come from having both dogs and children.

When we break down their developmental stages puppies/dogs and children/adults we have similar stages but dogs develop about 7 times faster. When in the "baby" stage, puppies and babies (toddlers) are learning to walk, explore things with their paws/fingers and put everything in their mouth. Then they develop some dexterity. As babies or puppies they should be exposed to different environments and people for socialization and to develop connections. Puppies and babies/toddlers learn what is safe or unsafe, and develop skills that will affect how they interact with the world as they mature.

The similarities don't end there. As both groupings get older, they begin to gain more confidence and retain more skills. They both experience a teenage phase where hormones rise, personalities change, and everyday behaviour becomes less consistent. Once dogs/kids reach adulthood and things start to stabilize, you get to know who they are as an individual, a product of all their previous experiences. Lastly, becoming a senior where dogs as well as seniors (people) may start to have mobility issues as well as cognitive issues.

In addition to development, when dogs are raised with children they share learning experiences. They discover different sounds from their environment and novel sounds from people as well as inanimate objects (musical or sound making toys). They learn about quick movements, how to live with different personalities (people and dogs), how to share attention, and that there is plenty of free food around the table. On the flip side, kids learn from dogs to move slowly, be gentle, how to care/feed, play with, respect and teach another species. Kids also gain confidence while spending time with dogs, reading to them, playing and hiking. These successes are then transferred to social situations with their peers.

The tricky thing is getting the personalities right so they develop a connection. This is where the timing of our lives and choices we make have an impact on our family. The age and breed of the dog as well as the child's personality are important considerations. The majority of us have a favourite breed but we need to remember what personalities and innate tendencies the dog was bred for and whether they complement the changing lifestyle of a busy family.

Amelia and I have published a podcast regarding kids and dogs and I also have an hour-long seminar on the training aspect of having children and dogs in the same household for anyone who would like to learn more on this topic

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