My parents had a German Shepherd named Butch before I was born.
He was my constant companion and protector as a child and I (semi) jokingly say I imprinted on him rather than people. But contrary to the popular thought that kids and dogs are natural companions, it takes some work to make sure this companionship is safe for both the dog and your child.
When a child and canine relationship goes bad, the child can be bitten (sometimes severely or fatally) and the dog could be potentially killed. To protect both your child and the dog, it’s important that your child learns how to interact with the dog to reduce tension.
Dogs, Kids and the Dog’s Food
The family dog should be able to eat in peace. Feed him in a quiet spot where there isn’t too much havoc and where your child won’t bother him. Teach your child that just as they wouldn’t interrupt an adult’s meal, put their hands in their parent’s food or take something off a parent’s plate without permission, they are not allowed to interrupt the dog’s eating nor play with his food.
A common theme I hear from parents is, “We mess with his food because he needs to learn that he can’t protect his food.” The quickest way to make a dog protective over his food is to continually mess with him while he’s eating. However, an adult (not a child) can feed the dog and then part way through his meal, give him some more food. That’s fine as it teaches him that food comes from your hand.
Children can give the dog food treats when it’s not mealtime and away from his food bowl. During training sessions is a great time for the child to give out treats (as directed by the adult doing the training).