In the last couple of months I have seen a shift in the comfort level between Bailey and Kelsyann. Bailey was uncomfortable when we brought Kelsyann home as a newborn. He avoided coming close and observed from a distance. We began specific activities with Bailey while holding Kelsyann. One of the activities we began was morning “cuddle time.” I would hold Kelsyann and invite Bailey to snuggle next to me while Kelsyann was in my arms or on my other side. Bailey loves being close to older kids and adults and so this was a great activity for him.
We continued inviting him for “cuddle” time as kelsyann got older. Inviting him allowed him the choice to participate or not. He was always free to leave. We have continued this for 4 years and now both he and kelsyann know what to expect. As Kelsyann has grown we have gone from Parent-guided (hand over hand petting) to one-handed petting.
Kelsyann now invites Bailey up for “cuddles” and he can choose to come close or not. Bailey often comes to the bed and waits for her to invite him and he snuggles close to her. This has taken TIME! Relationships take time. Parents with babies and toddlers must be patient in the building of relationships between their dog and child. Trust and comfort must be a regular part of this relationship. Short and sweet predictable parent guided interactions help this to be a success.
Now, do I allow Kelsyann to do this without me being in the room? NO!
She is 4 years old and I must be part of this equation at this age. She may know things but she also may not be able to always make comfortable choices for Bailey. I love that I am seeing a great relationship develop but I also know that to continue our success I still need to be an ACTIVE part of this interaction for both to succeed long term.