While your dog may be gentle and well-behaved, there is a possibility that he might begin to display changes in behavior, especially towards other dogs or people. If this were to happen, would your child be able to handle such a situation?
When the situation changes
And then, there is the behavior of other canines and humans. Even an aggressive dog that has undergone obedience training might find it difficult to not react when suddenly faced with another dog. Flexi-leads can also pose another problem as they can get tangled easily, and dogs that are tangled can panic and bite unexpectedly.
So should you let your kid walk the dog? The answer actually depends on a variety of factors, including the age, weight, personality type, and maturity level of your child and dog; how well your dog listens despite distractions; the type of area in which your child walks the dog; if other people walk their dogs in your area; and what your neighbors’ dogs are like.
If you feel that your child is ready to walk the dog, here are some general recommendations.
• Have a designated route and go through some practice runs with your kid and dog so you can help your child avoid some potentially unsafe situations. Select unobstructed corners so you can see what’s around the bend.
• Rehearse safety drills in your backyard. What should your child do if she trips and lets go of the leash? What should she do if a stranger with or without a dog wants to speak to her or pet the dog? What should she do if your pet barks or growls at another dog or person?
• Your dog should always be kept on leash during walks.
• Avoid letting your pet greet other canines, especially dogs you don’t know and those on flexi-leads.
• Note what time your child and dog leaves and what time they should be back. Be ready to drop everything to go out and check on them if they’re late. They may be in need of help!
• Let your child carry a cell phone so she can call you in case of an emergency.
• Your kid should report all incidents of concern to you so future occurrences and any likelihood of an increasing problem can be prevented.
It’s better to start by slowly easing your kid into the responsibilities of caring for the family pet by letting her feed, groom, train, and play safe games with the dog. As her skill and maturity levels grow, slowly have her take on more responsibility.