They said it’s not easy to raise a child, but have they ever thought of raising toddlers and senior dogs? You are responsible for both their lives. They are dependent on you. Every decision you make will affect them for the long-term. And best (and sometimes, worst) of all, you love them both that it’s hard to prioritize just one of them when they both need you.
You don’t want to be negligent of your senior dogs as some pet parents are when they start having kids. The belief that children and dogs go naturally together (as some Hollywood films want you to believe) isn’t true. You have to know your pet and the temperament. Your child needs to be gentle as well. Depending on the dog’s breed, some are more natural with children, while others see them as a threat and competition.
Train Your Dog
Make sure that your dog is sociable with other children before planning to have a child or welcoming one into your home. Your dog will feel threatened about his position in your life. It’s always best to have him trained first for what’s about to come. And yes, senior dogs can still attend dog obedience training. These programs are still effective in adult and senior dogs. Simple command words will give you the power to “control” your dog if it’s being too aggressive around your kid.
Understand the Past
Did you adopt this dog? When? What was its life like before? If the dog came from the war or worked as a guard dog, trust that it will be more aggressive than other dogs. Even gentle breeds like a Labrador will be aggressive if trained to be. You need to understand the temperament of the dog and what can trigger that aggression.
Take It Slow
Your kids aren’t going to love this senior dog as much as you at first. But slowly, they will begin liking having it around. Make age-appropriate rules about your kids’ responsibilities and obligations for the dog. At ages three and below, teach them how to pet the dog properly. Don’t let them pull its tail or go near the dog when it’s eating. By four and up, your kids can begin helping in taking care of the senior dog. They can give the dog treats if they like.
Sometimes, parents tend to lash out at the senior dog when they’re stressed at home. It’s not that the senior dogs are at fault for needing more attention now, but stress can make you do and regret things. Are you angry at your dog? What did it do wrong? Senior dogs—especially toy dogs—can be demanding and attention-seeking at old age. This is normal, especially if they feel that they have “lost” their friend in you.
Spend time with them. Make time for cuddles. Your kids need you to be present in their lives. Your senior dogs need you, too. They’re at the end of their days here, and all they want is for you to show them that you love them the same.
Don’t Adopt Any More Pets
It is normal for your kids to want a new and younger dog. After all, senior dogs no longer want to play with them. All these dogs do is sleep all day. That’s not the kind of activity that your kids want to do. They may want a new dog even though your senior dog is still present in the house.
It is tempting to say yes, but please say no. It will break your senior dog’s heart if you take in a younger and more agile dog. Your senior dog wants to be that dog for your kid, but its age just wouldn’t let it.
Do Not Abandon Your Senior Dog
A senior dog will be more dependent on you as time goes on. Most of them will suffer from some form of muscle or bone problems. They will walk slow. They won’t be able to move like before. In times like this, do not abandon your dog. They must know you are with them through this ordeal. And also, you will forever live with the guilt of abandoning a friend who needs you in the most trying of times.
Although it is difficult to juggle your life as a parent to your children and a senior dog, make the most out of your time with your furry friend. You two have been through a lot together. And believe it or not, your dog loves you more than you can love it. People rarely understand that in a dog’s world, humans are at the center.