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11 Things You Should Beware Of When Kids And Dogs Are Living Together

11 Things You Should Beware Of When Kids And Dogs Are Living Together

Kids and dogs usually get along just fine. They can be great playmates and having a dog around can teach kids a lot about respect and kindness for our animal friends. But problems may arise when kids and dogs are left unsupervised or training has been neglected. This can lead to aggressive behavior and may result in injury. There are 4.7 million dog bites a year in the USA and half of these victims are children. It is a well known fact that 9 out of 10 victims knew the dog in question. It was either a neighbor’s dog or the family pet. One study showed that the family pet was responsible for about 30% of bites.

The bottom line is that children and dogs need training so that they can learn to respect their territories. Here are 11 tips if you happen to be a dog owner which is in contact with kids or you have a dog at home when children are born.

1. Dogs need to be trained

If your dog is part of the family, make sure that you have dedicated time for basic training so that when kids play around him, there are no problems. This is easier if the dog is a puppy so that you can start early on. Dogs should not be allowed in the dining room or kitchen at mealtimes because this can set off a whole series of incidents and problems and may end up with the dog trying to steal the child’s food. Basic obedience training needs to cover the following:

  • Sit
  • Walking with a leash
  • Down
  • Stay
  • Come

Using treats such as food, favorite toys or physical contact such as a tummy rub are great ways to reward the dog as it makes progress. You also need to be calm and consistent and avoid any punishing treatment which will turn the dog off training for ever.

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2. Supervise kids and dogs playing

This is essential as kids have to get used to dogs and how they react to being played with. Many dogs cannot stand all the shouting and shrieking. At least, if you have started with the basic training, it is fairly easy to keep things under control. Experts say that kids should be at least four years old before they can be left alone with dogs but you have to be the best judge of that. There is some excellent advice in the book by Colleen Pelar, Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind: A Parent’s Guide to Controlling the Chaos (Volume 2)

3. Kids need training, too

You have to teach toddlers from early on to respect the dog’s territorial limits. No dog likes the facial close-ups or being stared at in the eyes. Also teaching the child early on to teach the dog to sit is a good way to start.

In addition, kids have to become aware that there may be problems if the dog is playing with a toy and the child comes too close. Similar problems could arise when the dog is eating his food.

They also need to be careful about poking things into the dog’s ears or yanking its tail. Teaching the child about how a dog reacts to pain, aggression or fright is important, too.

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4. Think about having your dog neutered

There are some advantages in this as the dog tends to be less aggressive and also will not bother too much about roaming. That could save him or her from being put down or ending up in misery in an animal shelter. Also female dogs will urinate less, thereby avoiding intrusion by neighbors’ dogs looking for a mating partner. This makes for a quieter home life for dogs, parents and kids alike.

5. Dogs need their space, too

There will be times when it is not appropriate that the dog is around such as when a toddler is learning to walk. A dog also wants a bit of peace and quiet so creating a space for them in a back room, or outside if the weather is clement, is a good idea. Very young children should not have access to the dog’s private area. You can find a kennel or crate or both. It also reduces a lot of the mess when older dogs become incontinent. Pet doors or dog flaps to their own area is an excellent idea as it saves you or the kids opening the door for them all the time!

6. Dogs can be helped with homeopathic medicine

When dogs get too nervous, agitated or stressed out, you may find that there is a lot of barking, scratching and growling going on. This can sometimes happen when the pet is under stress or there has been past abuse. A great way to avoid any problems with the kids is to administer a homeopathic remedy which can calm the pet down. Look for remedies which contain Scutellaria, Chamomilla, Arsen alb and Belladonna. It makes life easier for everybody.

7. Choosing the right dog

There may come a time when your kids really want a dog or you may have to replace a previous pet. There are several things to bear in mind when choosing one:

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  • Large dogs may knock children over too easily
  • Guard dogs may not be appropriate
  • Dogs who bark a lot are not recommended
  • Consider certain breeds of dogs which are more adapted to families such as beagles, bulldogs and labradors.
  • Avoid highly strung and hysterical small dogs

8. Monitor your dog training

Dog experts recommend that you watch out for problem areas which may indicate that more dog training is needed. You may find that the dog jumps up on children or growls and snaps at them. At this point you may have to be much stricter with the obedience training and more vigilant in your supervision.

9. Teach children how to treat dogs gently

It is amazing to see how some children are always tugging, poking and pinching dogs and most of the time, dogs put up with it. But one day, they will react and there could be serious consequences.

It is much better to teach kids how to pet a dog and they can practise with a toy before trying their gentle strokes on the dog.

10. When dogs bark too much

Sometimes dogs will bark at the slightest noise and this may be a problem with a sleeping baby or adults. There are electronic anti-barking collars available now and this may be one solution. Another possibility is to move the dog as far away as possible while the baby is sleeping.

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11. Decide on sleeping arrangements

It is incredible that some parents allow their kids to sleep with the family pet. This can lead to enormous problems down the road, not least with hygiene and behavior. Obviously, the dog must have his own bed, preferably in its own private area.

If parents are committed to living together in harmony with a dog, they will need to dedicate time and effort to make sure that the experience is a happy one for the whole family.

Let us know how your kids and dogs get along together in the comments and how you prevented any problems from developing.

Featured photo credit: Jules and the boys/Kristopher Volkman via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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