The current situation with the Coronavirus and kids being home more than usual could cause your dog’s tolerance level to change around children.
Dogs communicate through body language when they are stressed, anxious, and even happy. Predicting dogs and their cues can help you gauge if you need to intervene around young ones.
Here are some changes to implement around your house to help your dog adjust to the kiddos being home more than usual:
1. Schedule daily downtime for your dog to have a break from the kids. This break is an excellent way to reset the dog during all the new activities and their daily routine getting disrupted. Use a crate or separate the dog into a quiet room alone. This can help to prevent the dog’s tolerance levels from decreasing towards the children. Pay attention to your dog’s body language cues to know if they are needing a healthy break. The above link has examples of displacement and avoidance behaviors to watch for. If your dog is used to tolerating the kids for 5 hours a day and now they are expected to be around them twice as much, this could cause increased stress for your pet.
2. Using interactive toys such as KONGS, Everlasting Balls, and Meal Puzzles for mental stimulation. I like to freeze the above list to add for more engagement and allow for a longer duration of focus on the toy. These toys could be used during times of homeschooling. This gives the dog a constructive activity to keep them busy.
3. Go on more family walks, including the dog. Outings are a high bonding activity for dogs and kids. It allows for space and positive experiences. Short walks give the dog (and the kids) a healthy outlet and can break up the day. Involving kids in this activity also helps teach responsibility in caring for the family dog.
4. Involve the kids with the responsibility of feeding the dog. Depending on the age of the children, being involved in feeding routines is an excellent way for the dog to respect them as being the provider of meals. Instead of being equals, this separates the kids into a more critical role. (Once the food is down, the dog should not be disturbed.)
5. Routine, predictability, and more routine. Routine for both the dog and the kids is the best strategy for creating a controlled environment amid the unknown. Try to keep mealtimes, downtime, daily obedience, and physical outlets predictable in the dog’s routine.
Let’s help to share and prevent unnecessary stress for your dog and avoid any dog bites towards children while we all adapt to these times.