Are your children jealous of the dog? Here is what you can do!

  • by Debby Lucken

Just when you thought you could have your Disney moment with the kids and a family dog, your children start showing signs of being jealous of all the attention you are giving to the dog. So, instead of the picture perfect moment, there is arguments and tears and you are more stressed out than ever.
Let me tell you, you are not alone and this can be rather common. Just like there is such thing as siblings rivalry, there is also dog-child rivalry.

Here are some tips to help you overcome this challenge:

  • Keep calm!

    Try not to get mad or agitated by the situation and try to see it from your child’s point of view: up until now your child was the centre of your universe, however now the dog needs you and your child needs to share you, which she is not used to do.

    Make sure to take a deep breath and keep your cool.

  • Make your child feel special

    I know you are busier than ever, but make sure to point out the wonderful things your child does: a nice drawing? A funny little dance? A cute song they came up with?
    Whatever their special skills are, make sure she knows you are proud of her individuality.

    I would also point out the things that the dog might like a lot about the child and highlight them.
    For example, your child might be a keen poet, so why not asking her to write a poem about the dog? Or, perhaps, your child is into crafting, she could watch the KAD video on making a dog toy and make one for the family dog!

  • Don’t forget your family

    Highlight all the good stuff that come with having a family dog:
    - training classes to which the kids can join you (check our your local KAD Approved Trainer);
    - great and new outing spots with the dog (research dog friendly places in your area before heading out!);
    - learn about holistic dog grooming (check out the wonderful books from KAD Approved Trainers Sue Williamson and Stephanie Zikmann);
    - reading to dogs is a wonderful way of bonding with them; it is also relaxing and can be extremely beneficial to your child’s mental health and reading skills;
    - from now on, your children can go to school and say that the dog ate their homework! Officially the best excuse ever!

  • Remember the times before you had a dog

    You can still do the things you used to do before you had a dog and that were important to your family, even if they do not involve the dog, like going to the cinema, or to a water park, or having a meal out, and so on.

    If the dog cannot come with you, make sure to hire a professional dog walker to take the dog out, or a pet sitter to stay at your house while you are away.

    You can also book your dog in at a day care or into a licensed dog boarding house for a vacation (make sure the person you leave your dog to is licensed by your local council).

  • We are not all create equal

    It would have been a dream come true for me, as a child, to have a dog, but I know it was not the same for my brother, remember that when it comes to your family too.

    You might find one of your children more interested in the dog than the others, which is perfectly ok.

    Try not to compare your kids and not to involuntarily encourage competitive behaviours between them.

    At the same time, try not to compare your puppy to your children, as this would also fuel the rivalry you are trying to avoid. Therefore, saying things like ‘Look how well behaved the puppy is, why can’t you do the same?’ really does not help.

  • Point out how much the dog needs us humans and get the children involved in everyday tasks that help looking after the dog

    - water (your child can put fresh water for the dog twice a day);
    - food (your child can prepare the food for the dog, of chose what the dog is going to have);
    - toilet breaks (get your child to remind you when it is time for the dog to be let out);
    - sleep (why not ask your child to make sure the dog’s bed is free of toys and nice and fluffy?);
    - health/avoid injuries (why not taking an online course on canine first aid with KAD friend Veterinary nurse Rachel Bean?)
  • Never leave kids and dogs unattended!
       Photo Credit: Lorraine Benham from Positive Dog

    I cannot stress this enough! Rivalry can make even little kids do irrational things, which could hurt or upset the dog.

    Moreover, if the dog were to feel threatened, he might feel like he has to defend himself in ways we would not like!

Keep a vigilant eye on both children and dogs; be fair in your praises and be understanding of their feelings.

Have some kids-only time, so the puppy can rest or chill in his crate or playpen (the dog nook!), while the humans can do other stuff together too.
(When leaving your doggy in his dog nook, make sure to give him something to amuse himself with, like a long-lasting chew).

That way, the kids can see that life might have changed since the dog has joined the family, but some things, like your love for them, it is still the same.

Thank you for reading the KAD blog. If you have any issues with your children around your dogs, please get in touch with your local KAD Approved Trainer.


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