Bringing a new puppy into your household is an exciting time. Here are some tips for teaching children to safely interact with your dog.
- All playtime with young children and dogs should be closely supervised. Young children will find it difficult to follow your rules at first. Keep play times short between small children and dogs to better manage the level of excitement. Young children and dogs both need to learn appropriate play behavior.
- Body language is very important when teaching young children to interact with your pet. Most children will ignore even the most obvious signs of aggression such as growling or baring teeth, or may think it's part of the game. Adults need to watch closely for less obvious signs of stress in your dog. These may include looking away, licking lips, yawning, flattened ears and stiffened body. If you see any of these signs it is time to end play time.
- Most dogs do not like to be hugged, especially if they do not know you well. Teach your child to put their hand out for the dog to sniff first, then gently pat or scratch under their chin. If the dog is receptive, they can move on to gently rubbing their ears or petting their head. Even with beloved family members, most dogs do not enjoy big hugs.
- Remember that dogs are not play toys. Your children should be taught to respect their boundaries, not pull their hair, ears or tails, and to always be gentle. They should not startle or jump on a dog, especially if he is in his bed, sleeping or eating. Allow your dog to eat and have his treats in peace. Allow your dog to have a safe space away from children for downtime and relaxation.
- Your children should remain standing when playing with dogs. No matter how wonderful the temperament of the dog, getting on the ground with them will greatly increase the level of excitement and increase the roughness of play. The heightened arousal may cause the dog to nip more and can result in the child getting bitten or scratched.
- Keep high pitched shrieks and screams to a minimum as they often cause more excitement and rough play. It can also stimulate the prey drive is some dogs resulting in further aggression.
- If a puppy is playing roughly or nipping frequently, all play should be directed away from the person playing (i.e throw a ball or toys for the puppy to chase). Have multiple toys ready so you don't have to try and get a toy away from them, and encourage them to drop the toy for a new one.
- Adults should control the start and finish of playtime. Staying on your feet keeps humans in control of the game, and keeps the level of play on your terms. If your puppy gets too excited, pause play until the puppy calms down. If needed use the crate for a short time out, or put the puppy on a leash and go for a walk to tire him out.
Our goal is a happy household and a well adjusted puppy. If you have any questions about training or behavior please give us a call.