Preparing Your Children for a New Dog

Bringing a new puppy home is by far the most exciting experience for anyone – especially for a child. Remember the joy and happiness that you felt when you brought your first dog home as a kid? It’s time to bring that joy into your child’s life by bringing their new best friend home. Before jumping into this venture, however, be sure that you and your kids are properly prepared. A new dog will bring extreme bliss to your home, but it can be stressful as well. The more preparation that goes into the decision, the more amazing it will be.

It is very important that the dog feels comfortable and welcomed by being approached and handled with care – especially by children. This article will discuss how to prepare your kids for their new furry friend.

What’s the Dog’s Story?

No matter where you purchase or adopt your dog from, ask about the dogs history with children of all ages. We say, ‘all ages’ because the safety of your child and visiting children come first.

The current owner or caretaker will most likely know of the dog’s history with children and they can let you know if it is safe to introduce them to your own. Having this knowledge beforehand will give you a much needed heads-up. Remember that no matter how sweet a dog seems, you must never force an unwilling dog to accept a child! It is a recipe for certain disaster.

Did Someone Say, ‘Treats’?

Treats are the universal currency of canines and are a great motivator when used properly. Start by providing your children with a handful of treats and encourage them to reward the dog when he comes to them, or allows them to pet him. This way, the dog will associate the children with positive rewards. But be sure your child knows to keep their hand flat to prevent their fingers from getting bitten. This type of incentive will later be used to train them for basic obedience commands. Eventually, the treats will be needed less and less.

Know The Warning Signs

Not only should you teach your child the proper way to gently handle the dog by using slow and deliberate gestures, but it’s essential that you encourage them to watch closely for the dog’s warning signs or ‘red flags’. Some red flags include:

  • warning growls

  • walking away from the child

  • resisting being held

  • retreating to his own safe space, etc.

All of these warnings are intentional signs that mean, “I’m not comfortable with you, leave me alone.” If a child ignores them, the dog could develop anxiety or resist a close relationship with them. Keep in mind that not all dogs have been properly socialized with new people, and they do not all react the same way. You should let them get comfortable with you before trying to pet them.

It is not a rare occurrence for dogs/puppies yo be returned or abandoned due to improper training and care of the animal. Please understand that even though canines are animals, they are much like children in that they learn what they live. If they have a difficult past, their fight instinct will be heightened.

Easy Does It, Partner!

With new and intriguing things, children are very curious and hands-on. Little ones do not always have the gentle touch that is needed when handling an animal. While you should teach your child to approach the dog with slow and gentle movements, it’s important that your dog will be okay with somewhat rough handling. Be aware that children can be scary to dogs if they are not approached correctly. Dogs often know what to expect with adults, as we move more slowly and cautiously. Children are unpredictable and sporadic, and dogs aren’t always sure of how to deal with that. In order to keep these introductions safe and fun, it’s a good idea to teach your children the right way to approach and pet a dog with slow, gentle movements.

Children and dogs are a lot like in that they pick up on the energy of others around them. So try to keep your child in a calm state when they approach the dog. Instead of allowing your kids to rush up to the dog, ask them to take it slow. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “yeah, right,” but this is the key to a successful introduction.

The Introduction

Next, have your child turn away from the dog and bend down in a non-confrontational manner. Allow the dog the time and space to approach your child and smell them. Once the dog has warmed up a little, show your child how to pet the dog. Grab your child’s hand and assist them in their first few pets, making sure to instruct a gentle touch. It’s best to teach children to pet dogs on their back as it is less intrusive to the dog’s personal space. You can incorporate treats to help the dog have a more positive association. Although the dog and child may seem to be getting along nicely in these first interactions, always supervise all contact between the two new friends – at least until they have established a familiarity.

Keeping It Slow and Steady

Bringing a new dog home requires patience, consistency andcommitment. The most important rule to follow when bringing a new dog into a family with children is CONSISTENCY. Dogs are people-pleasers but can get easily confused and develop an anxious personality if there are four people giving them different commands all day long.

We highly recommend enrolling your new puppy or dog into a People-Centered Dog Training program that all family members are committed to attending. Make sure everyone will follow through long after the training course is over. This way, both you and your children can better understand what the dog is “saying.” Body language can tell you a lot about the needs or wants of an animal. If we know what they are saying, such as, “I’ve had enough,” then we can know when playtime is over.  There is also a mutual advantage to having the dog understand what you are asking of him, such as “drop-it” or “stay.”

Building communication between your new dog and family can be a fun and rewarding experience for all involved. It will also greatly decrease the likelihood of your dog ending up back in the shelter. If you have any questions about dog training or how to help introduce your child to a new dog, feel free to contact us at Bed and Biscuit. We will be glad to help!

Original Source:

This entry was posted in Dog Behavior & Training. Bookmark the permalink.