If you have a small child and a dog, chances are you’re eager to see the two of
them getting along. Unfortunately, depending on the size, age, and temperament
of your dog, it can be a bit tricky getting the two acquainted with each other -
especially when it comes to walking the dog.
Each dog is unique, and every child is unique, so it’s hard to have a definitive
guide regarding what age a child should walk a dog, but consider some of the following
- How strong is your dog, and how well does she walk on a leash? A big dog that
pulls or has little obedience training can be a challenge for children. If your
dog has very bad leash manners, start with some simple training exercises before
handing over the leash.
- How good is your child with dogs? Some children are naturally good with animals
and need little encouragement from their parents, whereas others can lack confidence
when walking, or even drop the leash if they get scared or the dog frustrates them.
If your dog is the type that likes to run around and sniff everything, wait until
your child is around 8-10 before letting them go on walks together. The same rule
applies for big dogs, excitable dogs, and dogs that bark or are easily riled up
by things like bicycles and cars.
As a general rule, children under 5 probably shouldn’t be walking dogs, unless
they're with an adult and being supervised. And even then, children under 5 should
only walk small dogs or well-trained dogs to minimize the chance of your child losing control.
With older children and teenagers, walking the dog is a perfectly acceptable chore
that can be done daily! A good walk is 30 minutes to an hour and will aim to let
your dog sniff and explore, while also staying reasonably obedient on the leash.
Don't let your teenage children encourage bad habits by ignoring the dog at the
end of the leash. working with your kids to show them how to keep the family dog
under control on the leash will help keep your dogs leash manners sharp no matter
who is walking him.
Whatever the case, make sure the first few times you let your child walk
the dog that you’re there with them. This will help to ensure that you’ll be in
control should anything happen. Another idea is to have two separate leashes -
one for you to hold and one for your child, which can help with training as long
as you are being clear about the leash commands, and not over-using them to
annoy or confuse your dog.