As you may, or may not know; Kyuss currently resides with myself, my husband and our two toddlers.
However, when I first purchased Kyuss as a pup, I didn’t have any children, nor did I associate with children often.
Kyuss’ breeder actually had an infant during the time the pups were born, which I’m sure aided in his positive demeanour towards young children. But to ensure he would always be gentle and happy around kids, I knew I had to expose him to kids often.
The first time I took him to encounter kids, was when I visited my sister and two nieces. They were 6 and 4 at the time, and although the experience was positive, it was crazy!
My sister doesn’t have any pets, so the fact a new puppy was in the house and the kids got to play with him was quite excitable to say the least. Lots of shrieking and running around managed to wind kids and Kyuss up quite a bit. So the girls and Kyuss each got a time out to calm down. Kyuss in my car (where he then ate my driver’s side seatbelt…) and the girls in their rooms.
This was not an ideal situation… I figured it out after the fact. So please, don’t do this. Kids with no prior pet experience aren’t the greatest of “first encounters.”
After that day, I knew I had to find other kids for Kyuss to see, but where to go?
None of my friends had children at the time. Parks where I live are a “No Dogs” zone by default, so I didn’t want to get a fine. Dog parks I feel are not a place for children to be, and most seem to agree with my logic, however there was always the odd person walking around the park with a newborn in a stroller. I was truly at a loss as to how I could acclimate him to kids.
One day, while walking Kyuss, I happened to notice the schools were just letting out as there was some children walking along the same path I was. Of course, walking a roly-poly puppy attracts a lot of attention from everyone, so the children flocked to where we were. Most children were polite and would ask to pet Kyuss first before reaching out. Those that didn’t, I would gently inform them of the proper way to approach a strange dog. Also, since the children we encountered were usually walking in small groups, it wasn’t as overwhelming as it may be at a dog friendly park. After that initial day, I timed my walks to coincide with school’s end.
I ensured I didn’t walk too close to the school; usually only a block or two away, so as not to bump into too many large groups of children. I also brought along some small training treats in a bag. This way, the children could give him a command and reward him with a treat and Kyuss would associate the kids with yummies. (just make sure the treats don’t have any peanut products in them!)
Kyuss loved our afternoon walks. Many of the kids even started looking out for myself and Kyuss each day so they could stop and say ‘hi.’ Kyuss even received a few gifts, such as drawings and cookies from some children.
I was so grateful for the time I invested in socializing Kyuss with kids, as I found out I was pregnant with my first child in early 2009. Kyuss wasn’t even a year old at the time.
Kyuss is now, possibly the best behaved dog ever, with my children. He endured the ‘eye’ phase my daughter went through were she would suddenly poke Kyuss in the eye and proudly proclaim “Eye!” He’s also currently going through my son’s ‘stand on everyone’ phase, where he will try to stand on anyone or anything who happens to be on the floor. This includes the cats.
Of course, I don’t allow my children to maul him in any sort of way, but you can’t always stop everything. Both my kids think it’s hilarious to sit on Kyuss’ back when he’s laying on the floor, which may look very cute (I actually just put my son in time out for sitting on Kyuss as I type this; no joke) but is not appropriate. When incidents like the above happen, Kyuss always looks to me. He doesn’t take any sort of action towards the children, and simply just gets up and walks away.
Kyuss is great with kids, and I’m very thankful for this.