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The thought of having your child grow up with the constant companionship of the family dog can bring to mind images of the two of them sleeping under a tree together following an afternoon of playing fetch. And this sort of relationship is completely obtainable provided both are properly trained to understand and respect one another.

The recent tragedy involving a very young infant may terrify many parents and cause them to re-think their family pet. However, DOGS Victoria President Doug Ford would like to point out that this tragedy could have been avoided had the dog been appropriately trained and a few ground rules followed.

Detailed information regarding kids and dogs, and babies and dogs is available at, but Mr Ford offers some basic tips to dog-owning parents.

"The most important rule is that no child under that age of five years should be left alone with a dog," advises Mr Ford. "Without realising it, children can trigger natural reactions in the dog that cause it to act purely on instinct."

"Ideally," says Mr Ford, "You will have anticipated any changes the dog will face and got it used to them well before your baby arrives. This may mean confining the dog to certain rooms or outside only, keeping its toys outside or changing its feeding spot. If this is done early, it won't associate the new baby with these disruptions."

"If you've already brought the baby home, keep some treats with you at all times and reward the dog for basic good behaviour while changing, feeding, cuddling, and etc. so it associates you being with the baby as a rewarding experience," Mr Ford explains.

"Teach older children to avoid screaming and running around the dog. It's also a good idea to have a room or kennel for the dog only where it can go for peace and quiet. Make sure the children leave it alone entirely when in this safe spot."

These are just a few of the many things you can do to make sure that in the coming years your dog and child have that idyllic relationship you dreamt of for them.

Victorian Canine Association

Last Update: 02/06/08 14:24 Views: 4385

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