Puppies and Children
Dogs and children need your guidance and supervision to live together happily ever after. Most dogs see children as littermates, and treat them as such. Your puppy might know not to jump up on you, the pack leader, but she may decide it is alright to do to your children. puppies are easily stimulated by the exuberance of children. To a puppy, a running, shrieking child is an invitation to chase and play rough. In addition, children love to hug puppies. Unfortunately, in dog-language, a hug is an attempt to dominate. If your puppy resents your child's dominance move, she might become aggressive. It is up to the adults of the household to supervise all child/puppy interactions to ensure a safe and respectful bond develops between the two.
If you don't have a puppy now, but are planning on getting one soon, start exposing your child(ren) to dogs and how to act around them. Help them learn to respect each puppy's space and preferences. Teach them to only approach leashed puppies, always ask the puppy's owner first, and then to move slowly. Explain that the puppy will want to sniff them-that's how a puppy identifies you. The old method of meeting a new puppy is to offer an outstretched hand for her to sniff. Experts now recommend keeping hands down along the sides of the body. puppies have such a keen sense of smell that they don't' need us to hold hands out-and if a puppy has been abused in the past she may snap at a hand coming towards her. It is safer to let the puppy approach and sniff where she wants.
Just as you will establish house rules for your puppy (stay off the couch, etc.) it is important to establish boundaries for children in regards to your pet. Teach your child(ren) to never take a toy from your puppy, and to leave her alone while she is eating. puppies are often especially possessive about their toys and food. Kids and puppies make great playmates, but teach your children that if they play roughly, the puppy will respond in kind. Even though the puppy doesn't mean to hurt your child, accidents happen. Playing fetch is a better game than wrestling between kids and puppies.
An excellent way for your child to bond with your puppy is to take part in training her. Giving her treats as a reward for correct behavior is a delight to kids, and it raises the child's position in your puppy's eyes. Just as your puppy develops respect for your child, help your child do the same. Teach your children that puppies are living beings with likes, dislikes, and fears of their own. Help them see their pet as more than entertainment, but as a cherished member of the family.
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