It’s well known that dogs are social animals and (when done right) the combination of a young dog and a kid works very well.
But WHAT, if the dog isn’t young anymore, what if the dog is a senior already and the kid is a foster and therefore the dog hasn’t any lead time?
Our ACD bitch was already 9 years old and lived with us for a bit over a year when we took in our long term foster child (he is supposed to stay forever).
Quinn is a dog who is incredibly loyal towards „her“ humans. At home I am her No.1 followed closely by my husband. Everybody else she learned to tolerate on our command but she bears no liking for them.
Kids??? They are rather a nuisance for her…
Unfortunately nobody could provide us with information about the special topic of combining a dog with a foster child (different smell, kid is a toddler already, etc..), all i could do was to go by intuition.
We had about 6 weeks to prepare Quinn and ourselves.
During this time we did the following:
Several times during the day Quinn was sent to her bed where she would be rewarded with treats and was called back to us after a few minutes with lots of praise for her staying there as told. We thought it important that we can easily seperate kid and dog in any difficult situation without Quinn feeling left out.
Our future foster child and Quinn were only allowed to be together for a very short period of time (Our kid was still at another place then and our visits became longer every time we went there). This time frame got extended gradually. Any attempt to „herd“, even staring we stopped right away with the command „not your job“. Perfect timing was crucial.
We let Quinn smell on our boy’s worn clothes and used diapers and gave her tons of praise and treats every time. Then we put the clothes in her bed so she would sleep on them.
Shortly before our son moved in we didn’t pay as much attention to Quinn as we normally do. When D-day came, we went back to giving her as much love and attention as normal.
We simply tried to think about a way to make the change in our family as agreeable as possible for Quinn. We wanted „the new pack member“ to have a positive connotation for our old girl.
Our foster child moved in at 14 months of age. He was a toddler crawling at high speed, close to learning to walk.
What shall i say..? It went incredibly smooth from the beginning until today!
Quinn tried exactly 3 times to heel and we suppressed this behaviour right away. At first we wouldn’t allow body contact between the two of them so Quinn would never have the feeling of being pressed hard.
Quinn has her places where she can retreat to and which are off-limits for the kid.
When we snuggled with the boy, we also called for Quinn and included her, giving her pats, praise and treats.
Holding yoghurt pots for Quinn to lick them clean (one of her favorites) was our boy’s job from now on.
Carrots, apples and other good stuff was divided between kid and dog. Not all the time but ever so often.
And i could swear that Quinn purses her lips whenever our son feeds her because she concentrates so hard not to rush him or hurt him.
Quinn still isn’t a „kid-dog“ but she accepted our son as a pack member and lets him pet her. She even protects him from foreign dogs and humans.
It doesn’t throw her off balance anymore when he falls down in front of her in the heat of the moment.
She acts terrificly around our boy and he as well respects the given limits.
Perhaps this report helps somebody who is facing the same challenge at some time.
Believe me: It’s worth it!