As someone who only got a dog when I was a lot older, I know T is very lucky having Oscar around. In my opinion, a pet to a child is like having a special friend. They’re someone on their level (quite literally sometimes) as well as someone who can offer a playtime opportunity at a moments notice.
Having Oscar around means that T learns to be gentle with animals and to respect them. That they’re not just “things” that can be tugged and pulled.
However, things aren’t always rosy between the two of them. They argue and bicker, well, like siblings. T gets jealous when Oscar wants a cuddle with me or Sharon, and Oscar gets annoyed when T throws his ball somewhere he doesn’t have access to (like the kitchen when the baby gate it shut). It’s hard work pacifying them at times.
Overtime though, I’ve been able to gather a few useful tips to help…
1) Be respectful of each other. This works both ways! For example, don’t let you child continually go up to your pet’s bed whilst they’re in there asleep or resting. If your child is having an off day, don’t let your pet keep pestering your child to throw the ball. Keep an eye on playtime and know when to shut it down (like siblings!)
2) Separate toys. Both boys have their own toy boxes. Just like I would tell Oscar to leave T’s toys alone, T isn’t allowed to take Oscar’s toys unless he’s actually going to play with Oscar. 60% of the time he does, but the other 40% he just wants to bang the toy or hide it (he’s mean like that).
3) Share the love.
Make sure you give equal (almost) affection to all your babies (fury and not so fury). Dogs are very observant and easily pick up when there is a change in the force. Make sure they know they’re still part of the pack.
Similarly, make sure your toddler knows that if the dog is on your lap then they’ll have to wait their turn or share (obviously ignore this if they’re hurt!)
When T was born, Sharon took one of T used baby grows home with her that night and left it on Oscars bed. That way, he recognised the smell when T eventually came home.
4) Share the reprimands! Both boys are as bad as each other if I’m honest. Therefore, they get told off equally.
If T has overstepped the mark with Oscar he’ll get advised that it’s not nice to smack/push/pull/thump the dog. If Oscar gets too rowdy in the house, he’ll get told to calm down.
5) Know their limits.
Just like you, dogs and toddlers have their limits; especially if ether party are feeling poorly. As a parent its up to you to monitor this. Not the other way around – when have you known a toddler to give up?
I’ve seen so many awful stories on the news where dogs have bitten children, and although there are two sides to every story it’s very rare that I blame the dog!
It can be hard to balance the two, especially if the dog came first. Dogs will make you feel incredibly guilty for abandoning them for this wrinkly thing, but over time you’ll get into a new routine. They adapt.
So let them play, but monitor it. Get your child involved in daily tasks like feeding or brushing. Let your child hold the lead (as long as it’s safe!). It won’t always be plain sailing, but a lot of the time it’s pretty awesome.