Both looking after a dog and raising a young child can be a handful at times, but they are definitely worth it. However, it can become difficult to look after both at once. Luckily, there are plenty of activities you can do that help with the development of both, and are good fun too.

Dogs are pack animals, and in most families they will recognise young children and look at them in the same way as they would see another dog’s puppies. This means many dogs will naturally form a strong bond with your child, and you should encourage this as much as possible through these activities.

If your dog needs brushing or grooming, this can be a good job for a toddler to do. You can frame it as just that: a job, or chore, that your toddler can perform for you. Both the child and the dog will enjoy it, and it will also teach your toddler to be responsible.

It is a good idea to bear in mind the potential problems here, though. Toddlers can be ‘grabby’, and might not understand that it is not good to pull your dog’s fur. Keep your child well supervised while brushing. Another good tip is to buy a brush with softer bristles, just in case your child is too rough.

Letting your child feed your dog is also a good idea. It reinforces the idea of the child as a pack leader, and will make it easier for them to give commands in later life. Toddlers tend to enjoy sharing food, so this is an excellent choice if your dog is on a raw dog food diet such as the BARF diet for dogs. Give your child some raw vegetables, and they can share them with your dog to their heart’s content.

Finally, playing fetch is a good bonding exercise for your toddler and dog. This is best done if you have a back garden, so you can ensure the safety of your child. Give them a soft, safe ball and teach them the game, making sure that your dog knows to release the ball when they bring it back so your child isn’t stuck playing tug of war.

Written by: Hannah