You’re getting a puppy - hooray! Your family is excited to add a new member to your home, and your puppy may feel overwhelmed initially. You will be introducing him to a whole new world filled with new sights, smells and sounds. Follow these guidelines to take the first steps toward creating a life-long bond between your child and your new pet.
Preparing For Puppy
Before bringing the puppy home, set expectations for your kids. Ensure your child understands that dogs are not toys and that they have feelings, too. Encourage soft voices, and let them know that the puppy will be excited and needs the kids to be calm. You can practice gentle stroking and petting using a favorite stuffed animal.
Have your child sit very still on the floor, and allow the pup to naturally make their way over when they first meet. If it gets too overwhelming, remove the puppy from the situation (not the child!) – this way, the puppy will learn that his crate or den is a positive retreat, and prevent dominance.
Always supervise interactions between your puppy and your child, correcting behaviors as needed. Make rough-play off limits. You may want to include your child on walks, but discourage playing outside during potty breaks as they can distract the puppy from learning. Remember, the more your child is around the puppy, the more comfortable they will be.
Puppies need a lot of sleep! Even adult dogs need up to 16 hours a day. Teach your child that puppies sometimes need some quiet time, just like they do. If the puppy retreats to his crate or other safe space, help them understand that he may need that time to nap or calm down from excitement.
Both your child and your puppy deserve praise for good behavior and well-mannered interactions. If your dog is able to mind his or her manners while in the presence of children, they should be rewarded with a treat. Your child may feed the treat, but first show them how to feed from the palm of their hand and remind them to never place their fingers near the puppy’s mouth.
Above all, be patient with the puppy, your kids, and yourself. The puppy has a lot of new rules to learn, and so does your child. If you can start out on a positive path, your child and dog will share a loving bond to be cherished for a lifetime. Your family’s happiness and safety is the most important thing! Establishing a good relationship between the puppy and your child will help keep your family even safer for many years to come.