Getting a new dog is both exhilarating and rewarding. Studies have shown that children who grow up with pets show high school performance, more social awareness, and improved responsibility, so there’s no limit to the benefits of introducing a puppy to your home.
Although a dog offers untold amounts of joy and love, introducing them to children of any age does come with its own unique set of challenges.
Below, we’re going to share some of our top tips on helping your children adapt to sharing their lives with a dog, so everyone can enjoy a happy, calm, safe, and loving household.
Involve Them In The Conversation to Helping Your Children Adapt to a New Dog
Before you even begin searching for the right dog for your family, it’s vital to involve your children.
Older children can get involved in the selection process and possibly come with you to shelters to meet potential adoptees. Younger children could get involved in shopping: helping you pick out food and water bowls, bedding, toys, collars, and leashes. This will allow them to feel significant during the preparation process and highlight the responsibilities of owning a dog.
Read books about pet ownership and watch movies together about families and dogs to get them excited about welcoming a new best friend into the family. You should be sure to point out good/bad behavior the characters exhibit to help your kids learn what you should/shouldn’t do with your pup when he or she arrives.
Give Your Pup Time To Adapt.
When you first bring a new doggy into your home, your children will likely want to start playing with them immediately. But this can be incredibly stressful for a dog who doesn’t understand what’s going on.
Rather than bombard a new arrival with lots of excitable introductions, give them time to slowly familiarise themselves with their new environment.
It would be preferable to give your dog time to adapt without the children there at all, so a weekend at the grandparents and a new pup waiting when they get home might be your best bet!
Make Slow Introductions – Your Children Adapt to a New Dog
When introducing your dog to the children, be sure to take it slowly and don’t allow the pup to feel backed into a corner or as though they’re about to be attacked.
To make a good first impression, have your children follow these steps:
- Approach from the side, giving the pup space to move away if they’re unsure.
- Hold out a hand, fingers curled
- Allow the pup to approach in their own time.
- Allow the dog to sniff the extended hand before you permit your children to touch the animal.
By taking it slowly and letting the dog approach them, you’re reducing the risk of unfriendly first impressions and will keep things calm for everyone.
Remember, dogs can sense when someone is nervous around them. New dogs may interpret this fear as a reason for them to be anxious and could lash out in confusion or fear. Slow and calm is the key to a happy family!
No matter how much your children love your pet, it’s tricky for a young person to understand when they’re too rough.
Teaching your children how to properly pet a dog will ensure a happy and loving family. Be sure to provide plenty of praise to the kids and pup when they’re suitably gentle and kind, and separate them immediately if either party starts to get rough.
The most frequent cause for bites is when a dog feels threatened. Reduce the risk by ensuring everyone is calm and friendly at all times.
You should also be sure to brush up on early warning signs that all is not well and teach your children how to read your dog’s body language so they can better understand your pup and learn to be more responsive.
When helping your children adapt to a new dog, they must understand that pups have needs too… And this includes the need for personal space! Be sure to teach your kids that when your dog is eating or sleeping, they don’t want to interact.
Crate training is one way to guarantee your pup has their own private space… Teach your children that the crate is the dog’s space, and they should leave him or her alone while they’re in there. That way, the pup can retreat should the excitement get a bit too much, and your children can learn boundaries.
This is also important if you intend to allow your pup on the furniture for cuddles. Set up clear boundaries the dog can learn and ensure your children also know which furniture pieces are/aren’t dog friendly. A good trick for this is using a dog ramp for beds to indicate where the dog is allowed.
Keep A Careful Watch
It’s vital to keep a careful watch when children interact with any animal, particularly one that’s new to the household. Practicing patience and teaching boundaries is essential to ensuring a happy and safe environment for your new dog and children alike.
That said, as long as your children are well supervised, bringing a dog into your life can provide a happy home full of love and joy for everyone.
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