Bringing a New Baby Home
If you already have a German Shepherd and are about to bring a new baby home, your dog can learn to love and protect your new little one, as well. German Shepherds of all colors are naturally curious about babies. They are full of new sounds and smells for your dog to discover. Some of these sounds may take some getting used to!
But if you teach your dog that this new little person is part of your family, he will accept and love the baby just the same as everyone else. German Shepherds tend to have a gentle and loving disposition when it comes to babies. As your baby grows, teach respect for the dog, as well. Gentle petting and respecting the dog’s space can be something your child knows from day one. Always monitor your dog and baby and don’t leave them alone together.
While a German Shepherd is known for being generally safe with kids, it’s never a good idea to leave any dog alone with a baby. Even what the dog perceives as gentle playing is not something a newborn can handle, so always be present when allowing your dog to interact with your child.
This goes for both the dog and your children. When people bring a dog into their home, they usually say the dog has to be good with the kids. What’s equally important, though, and often overlooked, is the fact that your kids have to also be good with the dog.
As much as you need to train and socialize your dog, you also need to teach your children that the dog is a new family member and needs to be respected as one. Most dogs won’t tolerate children pulling their ears or tail, for example. And when the dog then reacts in an aggressive manner, the family is quick to get rid of that mean dog.
In reality, no dog, including a German Shepherd, is to be used as another toy for the kids. This is a living creature who is relying on you to care for it and keep it safe. Allowing children to tease, kick, hit, slap, jump on, or otherwise torment the dog means you probably shouldn’t have a dog.
If you wouldn’t allow your kids to do that to one another, don’t allow them to do it to the family pet, no matter what species you have. It’s unfair to any animal to put it in that position.
If your goal is to have a German Shepherd you can trust with your children, respect from the start is paramount. Respectful socialization goes both ways. Your dog will respect your children if your children respect the dog.
When Eating or Sleeping
Respecting your dog also means teaching your kids to allow him his own time away from them. If you notice your German Shepherd trying to separate himself from the kids and go lie down and rest, allow him his time without being disturbed.
Teach the family that when the dog wants to be alone, he can have that time. If the dog is already sleeping, don’t allow your children to startle him awake or abruptly touch him when he’s not aware of what’s happening. When your dog is eating, allow him his time to eat in peace.
Teaching kids that their meal time is not to be interrupted by the dog and the dog’s meal time is not to be interrupted by them is a way to keep everyone’s space respected and safe.
The earlier the better when it comes to socializing your German Shepherd. If you’re opting for a puppy, that’s a very good way to make sure your dog will be friends with your kids.
Starting when they’re small means your dog and kids can likely grow up together, and they’ll always view each other as family members. If you’d like to adopt an older German Shepherd, try to find out about their background first.
Were they raised in a house with kids? Have they ever seen kids before? If you know of someone looking to rehome a German Shepherd but the dog has never seen children before, the socialization process with your kids might take a lot longer. Children have actions, sounds, and scents that might be no big deal for a dog who was raised with them, but could very easily scare a dog that isn’t used to them. Not every dog loves children automatically.