Rescue Dogs and Kids

Shepherds can be great with children. If you have children, your German shepherd might very well take to them immediately; however, you shouldn't expect this to happen. In most cases, your new shepherd needs to bond with your children and learn to trust them, too. Your biggest job could be teaching your children to be kind and gentle with the new shepherd.

A young child doesn't have to be mean-spirited to poke a dog's eye, twist a tail, pull a whisker, or step on a toe; he could simply be curious or clumsy. Children also like to use dogs as pillows, to kiss their faces, and to touch their feet. These actions can cause a dog a lot of stress, especially when repeated often. Kids also react impulsively, which can unsettle a dog. If the dog is chewing on a child's toy, the child's first reaction is to grab the toy back. This could startle a shepherd and cause her to growl, bark, or even bite.

What this boils down to is that you must set your shepherd up for success by controlling your children around the dog at all times. To do this, you must continually remind your children of the rules pertaining to the dog. Some basic rules include the following:

  • Do not pet the dog when she is eating.

  • The dog is not a cushion or a horse; do not lean on her or try to ride her.

  • Leave the dog alone when she is sleeping. Wake her by saying her name, not by touching her.

  • Keep your face out of the dog's face.

  • No running, screaming, or hitting each other in the home. The shepherd is likely to get involved in any conflicts.

  • Never go in the dog's crate or poke your fingers inside. The dog is entitled to protect her space.

  • Never try to take anything out of the dog's mouth. Ask a parent for help.

  • In addition to enforcing these rules, you must supervise the children when they are around the shepherd. If you can't supervise directly, you must be able to separate the dog from the children to prevent trouble.

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