Canberra ACT, Australia

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Children and greyhounds

Newborn

  • We recorded baby crying at hospital and played it over and over again for the boys before we came home.

  • We included a dog bed in the nursery so the dogs weren’t excluded from feeding or resting.

  • We played a lot of calm classical music in the nursery to invite the dogs to stay.

  • We maintained the dogs walking schedule, if I was unable I had a friend walk them or on occasion, hired a service.

  • For ease of movement, I used an ergo carrier for baby, that left me two hands free for walking and poo.

Crawlers

  • We had a play pen – controversial I know but my boys get very excited when people come to the door or a cat happens by. My child didn’t mind and it gave me piece of mind that the hounds wouldn’t accidently step on child or that child wouldn’t touch them without my dedicated supervision. Un-dog related it mean hot showers and warm cups of tea…It also meant that special toys could be protected from playful hounds.

  • We had a baby gate for a section of the house and if child was exploring (and as he learned to walk) the dogs weren’t going to be dropped in on by child.

  • We made sure their dog beds were out of the way of traffic but not removed from the room. This was to lessen the likelihood of child accidently dropping on them.

  • Our child is taught where to pat the dog and that he must be calm around them.

  • The child became part of the walking routine. He would come each day in the buggy for the dog walk. Note: an extra-large carabina clip on the buggy makes for a nice poo bag holder…

 

Toddler

  • Toddlers can be loud, noisy, quick moving objects. It is important to establish boundaries between the dog and child for everyone’s comfort.

  • The appropriate ways to pat a dog are reinforced. No slapping – gentle long strokes shoulder to leg. No handling the face or bottom.

  • We teach that permission must be asked before approaching any dog in public. Often children with pets are very confident with dogs, although strange dogs may not be confident with child.

  • My eldest boy dog has sleep startle (sometimes called sleep ‘aggression’). Even when appearing awake the dog can be asleep and when touched, may snap, growl, even on very rare occasions, make contact. We have a rule that our child must call the dog’s name three times whenever approaching, even if dog appears awake.

  • For dogs with sleep startle, it is very important to remember/consider:

  • Using a crate for sleeping to minimise the likelihood of child and dog accidently coming into contact.

  • Children MUST NOT enter the crate. Even when absent, this is the dog’s safe place and not a cubby.

  • The dog’s bed should remain in view of the family so that they are not excluded.

  • Our child is taught to be calm and confident with the dogs. He is responsible for pouring their dry food and giving them treats. Occasionally the dogs move by quickly and he gets knocked but that’s what brothers do. If they are in his way he will give them a gentle shift.

Beyond

  • Remember the greyhound has remarkable acceleration. For this reason to protect your dog as well as your child, it is recommended that careful consideration is given to the child walking the dog. Consider facts such as your child’s weight, strength and attention to their environment; consider where you are walking (are there roos over the fence etc) and your hound’s weight, prey drive etc.

  • Remind your child that although their dog is very friendly and is familiar with being handled by children, stranger’s dogs may not and permission must be given.

  • Remind your children that they should be calm and confident when handling their own dog as well as other dogs that they have permission to pet.

  • Ensure your child plays a role in the dog’s life, including feeding, brushing, treating, playing and walking with you and the dog.

  • Consider seriously if it is suitable for your hound to be on the child’s bed. Firstly greyhounds are big and shift in the night, which may wake the child and secondly, your dog may have sleep startle or may begin to protect or guard ‘his or her’ bed. Many hounds would be delighted to have a bed in the room, with the child on the floor.

 

Additional links

 

We would appreciate your feedback or specific questions on children and greyhounds. If you have any comments or questions, please email: actgsn@outlook.com

Our family

Our view when having a child was that we chose to have a baby, the dogs didn’t so we wanted to keep their lives as normal as possible. That said we are all a family and we have to learn to live with each other and respect each other’s space.

I have one greyhound that was very attached to my son while a newborn, but now he is a noisy toddler, he cares little for him, and that’s ok – I love him all the same. He comes into my son’s room each night for story time and lays on his rug to listen, I catch him in there napping some days with my son and leave him to it.

I have another greyhound that doesn’t know we had a child and it’s still all about him (he is a teenager in dog years). I think in years to come, he will be great mates with the child.

Resources > Children and greyhounds

Creating the perfect blended family

This advice is general and based on my own experience. I encourage any parent to do their own research to augment their understanding and to ensure that the actions taken are appropriate for their dog, home and child.

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