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Rules for keeping kids safe and dogs happy.

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Dogs are part of the family, however, they are not born with the knowledge of how to interact with their younger family members. The key to a happy family life is through teaching both kids and puppy how to interact with each other, as well as good management by mum, dad, and other adults.

Know Your Dog

Breed considerations

Life with your kids and their new friend will be entirely dependent on the breed of the puppy you chose. Some breeds are very tactile and enjoy human contact, like Cocker Spaniels, who love nothing more than to snuggle into your head!

Some are extremely tolerant of rougher handling and unpredictable movements. There’s a reason Labradors were the number one family dog for a long, long time, they are very chilled out!

Others, are far more sensitive to touch, and may startle easily, may prefer having more alone time, may be easily excitable, or enjoy interactions in a different way, such as through play or training.

Learn your puppy’s language

Allow your puppy to dictate the pace of the interactions. Learning to read doggy language goes a long way in protecting your child from any bites or nips that may occur. There is ALWAYS a precursor to incidents, so keep an eye out for these tell tale signs.

Beware of the ears pinned back, tail tucked, cowering, yawning, shaking, licking, freezing, and sniffing around to avoid interaction.

If puppy is displaying any of these signs, it is best to remove her to somewhere quieter for some relaxation.

Never punish a growl!

Growling is like a fire alarm, and you wouldn’t tell off the fire alarm for going off, even if you did only burn your morning toast! It is there as a warning system. To tell you that something is not right and it must be investigated. And that goes for a dog growling too.

If puppy does growl, its best to remove her from the situation, evaluate why she may have growled, and adjust interactions accordingly. Allowing puppy to be in the same situation may result in an increase in growling and an escalation to aggression over time, as puppy learns that growling is ignored and more of a warning needs to be given.

Prepare young children for their new puppy friend.

Teach your child how to interact

Young children will be eager to pet the new puppy, and need to be taught how to do so in the right way. It’s a great idea to set some rules in place before puppy comes.

  • Avoid wrestling or chase with the dog, as this could lead to over excitement and someone getting hurt.
  • Never startle the dog, or sneak up and surprise her.
  • Do not tease the dog.
  • Never hit or hurt the dog.
  • Very young children should be taught how to pet the dog, and discourage grabbing of fur, ears, tails etc.

Be Aware!

Children should never approach a dog while the dog is:

  • eating
  • sleeping
  • has a toy or bone
  • is in bed
  • sick, injured, or in pain
  • attempting to move away
  • backed into a corner

Making friends

Kids will obviously want to be best friends with the new pooch. It is essential that adults get to know the puppy and what she likes and dislikes, so children can be encouraged to interact in a way that puppy is happy with.

  • Remember, never leave a child alone with a dog, however well know the dog is.
  • Never allow a child to jump or climb all over the dog, no matter how much he appears to tolerate it.
  • If the dog looks unhappy at any point, remove her to somewhere quieter.
  • Never allow a child to approach an unknown dog without asking the owner first.
  • Teach the puppy some cool tricks so kids can interact in a fun way with puppy.


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