When people find out we have a young German Shorthaired Pointer with 2 kids under the age of 4, the most common reaction I get is “Oh, how does he do with them?” My answer is ALWAYS, Qwerty loves his little people.
Our daughter was 2 when when we brought Q home. A toddler who loved dogs, I mean, loved them. We had a huge problem keeping her away from dogs and teaching them how to respect them. Shortly after we brought Qwerty home I found out I was pregnant with our son. I can’t say that I wasn’t a little worried about having a GSP with very young children, I was not blind to what I was bringing home. A crazy ball of energy with a 2 year old and bringing home a new born in just a few short months?! Was I INSANE?!
So, what did I do? First off children was a huge reason why we decided a rescue dog wasn’t quite right for our family at the time. We needed a dog who had the right start on socialization to make sure we wouldn’t have to deal with reactive or inherited aggression issues. Not that rescues aren’t wonderful, but they were not a right fit for what we needed at the time. We spent a long time looking for a breeder who would make sure they were breeding a healthy puppy, who has the right start on being exposed to different things and situations.
Once we brought Qwerty home we were diligent about trying to not yell at him when he was around our daughter. Even if he was jumping on her we tried to stay calm. If you make interactions between kids and dogs negative that sets the tone for their long term relationship. We also taught our daughter (yes even though she was only 2 years old) how she should interact with Q. The biggest thing was teaching her to stay calm, don’t scream, and stand still like a tree. Quickly, they both learned how to be around each other. We also had our daughter help give treats and feed Qwerty, it was a great way to build the bond between them.
Fast forward to when the newest little was born. The biggest recommendation I have from personal experience is who ever is most bonded with the animal should be the first to greet them after returning home (without baby in hand). This again sets the tone for future bonding. A newborn is hard enough, but a newborn with a young active dog was very different. Finding time for everything was difficult, but I made a point to give all my children individual attention. I would drop the daughter off at daycare and strap the baby to my chest in his infant carrier and he and I would take Q to the dog park for an hour every day.
My goal has always been for my children to love their pets as much as I do. Making every interaction I could a positive experience for everyone is my key to this. When the dog knocks someone over, we explain that Qwerty didn’t mean it and try to encourage Qwerty to have a good interaction with that child shortly after. With children and pets it’s important to teach BOTH parties how to appropriately interact with each other. Dog bites occur most commonly with children and it is not always the dogs fault. It is often because the child was never properly taught how to interact with pets. That is why I encourage both my kids and Qwerty to enjoy their time together and make sure that both dog and kids have positive interactions.