Children positively love puppies, and why not? Something magical seems to happen between boys and girls (of all ages) and young animals, particularly puppies. Kids learn affection, compassion and responsibility by caring for puppies.
However, certain safeguards can help to set young children and their new puppies on the right path together from the very start.
Here are 10 tips for introducing a new puppy to young children
By following these simple steps, a family may maximize its enjoyment of a brand-new puppy, while giving the young canine a safe and secure start in the home.
1. Before the puppy arrives, read puppy picture books together
Parents or caregivers can pre-introduce children to puppy care by sharing colorful and informative picture books pertaining to dogs and pet care. A visit to the library, bookmobile or local bookstore can be a fun and educational excursion to prepare for a puppy’s arrival.
2. Practice puppy handling with a plush toy dog
Puppies are cuddly, but they are also extremely fragile. Young children can learn to hold baby dogs gently by playing with furry toy puppies before the real puppy’s advent.
3. Pick up puppy hazards in the home
By nature, puppies love to chew on nearly anything they encounter, from toys to household objects. Preparing for a puppy’s entry into the home includes removing clutter (including small items that may cause a puppy to choke) and anything that may be destroyed by an over-eager puppy’s chewing.
Young children should be warned about leaving toys out, where a puppy may chomp these treasured items to bits.
4. Prepare the new puppy’s private space
The brand-new puppy will need a safe and quiet spot for resting. A basket, box, crate or small safety-gated room can be ideal. Children can be instructed to leave the puppy at rest when he or she is in this haven.
5. Supervise young children carefully with the new puppy
Even the sweetest, most gentle puppies may bite, nip or scratch–particularly in a panic. Children must always have adult supervision when visiting with a brand-new puppy.
6. Demonstrate delicate handling of the new puppy
The adult should always pick up the new puppy first, modeling gentle touching and secure, but soft, holding of the young pet.
At this point, it is important to warn the young children about keeping the dog’s face and paws away from their own faces and necks. Puppy licking may be adorable, but nips and bites can be dangerous.
7. Pass the new puppy to each child in turn
With children seated on the floor, the adult may hand the new puppy to each child. In this way, the grownup is able to show the youngsters, one by one, how to hold the puppy in their laps without danger of dropping him or her.
8. Keep it quiet during interactions between young children and the new puppy
Loud, sudden noises should be avoided during the first visits with a new puppy. Yelling, screaming, stomping, crashing sounds can cause a puppy to panic.
9. Respect the new puppy’s feeding and sleeping times
Children should be trained to give the new puppy some space while he or she is eating and sleeping. By keeping such moments sacred, children and adults can help to minimize the puppy’s stress and to build mutual trust.
10. Assign only age-appropriate puppy care duties to young children
Children may learn responsibility by helping to care for the new puppy. However, the puppy will depend upon an adult for daily feeding, watering, exercise, discipline and training. Although young children may participate in the process, they need to be supervised and reminded regularly.
A proper puppy introduction can set the stage for many years of affection and enjoyment between the growing dog and the children that care for him or her.