Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Kids + dogs = FUN. You probably already know this, but as a newer mom to a little human, this fact becomes clearer to me each and every day. The older my five year old son Sebastian becomes, the stronger his bond grows with our fur boys, Abe and Chico. And, the more tolerance they have for him. After much patience and years of doggy/child boot camp at our house, my trio loves each other. So much so that my twelve-year-old Labrador, Abe, prefers playing with Sebastian rather than me. Paws down, any day of the week. As we roll further into summer and schedules are relaxed, my boys are finding more ways to have fun together. With Sebastian leading the charge much like the fabled Pied Piper. Here are a few of their favorites:
- Water fun– we all know that dogs can overheat in the summer. So while outside, let your kids indulge in water activities with them. My son loves to Slip ‘N Slide and Abe adores it equally. Sebastian runs and slides and then throws the ball for Abe. Abe will run down his ball, plunging his body in the cool water when he needs to.Sprinklers, safe pool play or the local dog beach are all good ideas for kids to engage dogs and keep the canines cool at the same time. It will also teach your children responsibility this summer.
- Harness a new game- older kids might enjoy learning something new with their dog such as canine agility. We have made our own agility equipment out of PVC pipes and my sons play tunnel. Sebastian loves running the course with the dogs and enjoys running it by himself too (he is five after all)! If your older child is interested in canine agility outside of your own backyard, have them call their local dog training association to learn about interactive classes that will ensure fun for both human and canine.
- Reading buddies- this might sound funny, but our dogs love story time before bed. They follow us into Sebastian’s bedroom, assume their position and relax.And, now that Sebastian is learning to write and draw, he reads to Abe and Chico throughout the day.Reading to dogs is gaining popularity. Children are reading to shelter dogs across the country with long-term benefits: the children sharpen their literary skills, the dogs practice social skills and both leave with a sense of calm.
Children and dogs can be incredibly good for each other. Encourage kids to grab a ball, bathing suit or even a book and get started. Kids can help dogs have even more fun this summer! Now, I am off to tuck in my boys: Sebastian, Abe and Chico. The latter can be found snoozing on a Lightning McQueen toddler chair in my son’s room. It happens to be just his size. Jenn Fadal *Check with your vet before introducing a more active lifestyle for your pet and schedule a consultation with a trainer if you have any concerns about your dog interacting with children.