Introducing your family pet to your children

Dog trainers weigh in on how to introduce your dog to young children in your home

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Introducing a family dog to your children in the home can be frightening for some parents. 

Some dogs show aggressive tendencies before a child enters the fray, but some never show any.

In lieu of a recent family dog attack that killed an infant in Bangor, NEWS CENTER asked experts for advice on acclimating your family pet to your children.

Mary Frances Morris, a dog trainer visiting Maine from Florida, says even she was terrified of bringing her newborn daughter home to her pets three years ago.

"You just don't know how they're going to respond in every new situation, until you're in it," Morris said.

Morris says she boarded her dogs for 2 weeks after she brought her daughter home. Then she reintroduced each dog back into the home one week at a time.

Now that her daughter is three-years-old, Morris still doesn't turn her back on both the dogs and her child.

Rebecca Henderson, a dog trainer in Holden, says people can't always assume their furry friends will automatically love their children newborn children as much as they love their owners. 

"You really want to start to get the dog acclimated to the sounds and the sights and the smells that involve a new child," Henderson said.

Both Henderson and Morris suggest dog training if you find your dog is behaving inappropriately around your children, but they say you should also train your child on good behavior.

"They live in the moment when they're young, just like the dogs do," Morris said.

Ultimately, keeping your dog and your young children separate when you aren't there to keep an eye on them, may be the best way to ensure they are both safe.

Morris says in some cases we may never know the reason a dog attacks a child because dogs can be unpredictable, but she says parents should take all steps possible to prevent problems.

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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