Raising a Puppy with Young Children

Junior Hudson

 

 

 

 

 

By Junior Hudson

Getting a new puppy is often a very exciting time for all members of the family, but it is important to remember that it is also an undertaking that carries the great responsibility of raising a puppy into a well adjusted, happy dog. This endeavour can be even greater when raising a puppy in a family with young children.

There are challenges to be aware of when beginning the process of integrating a puppy into your family. For example young children are often viewed as a source of fear by puppies, often lacking boundaries during interaction, children can unknowingly overwhelm puppies with intimidating, boisterous behaviour.

There are challenges to be aware of when beginning the process of integrating a puppy into your family

This may result in fear and discomfort, especially for those puppies that have not been adequately socialised.

Equally, In the case of very playful, boisterous puppies it may also happen that it is the child who becomes fearful. An over exuberant puppy may view your child as just another plaything and we all know how puppies play….with their teeth.

Fear can lead to aggressive behaviour and excitable, rough playing can lead to nipping, both of which are unwanted behaviours in a puppy or dog, especially when you have young children.

Here are a few guidelines or ‘puppy and child interaction boundaries’ that may be useful if you are getting a puppy or already have a puppy, with young children. At ‘Positive Canine Leadership’, I refer to it as Positive, Careful and Limited Interaction or PCL interaction.

Positive Interaction

Interaction and play should never result in either your puppy or your child becoming scared.

Absolutely no hitting, pulling, prodding or tugging, what may be fun for your child will certainly not be for your puppy. You wouldn’t encourage this behaviour if your child was interacting with an unfamiliar adult dog, so the same rule applies.

Chasing each other may seem like a fun game, whether it be your child chasing your puppy or vice versa.

Interaction and play should never result in either your puppy or your child becoming scared.

This can often lead to one of two undesired outcomes; either the puppy becoming scared, or alternatively so excited that jumping up and nipping ensues, subsequently scaring your child.

If your puppy is prone to rough play or nipping, try to encourage your child to stop any interaction when this occurs, ignoring the puppy and moving away as calmly as possible. A child’s natural response of pushing, shouting, screaming and/or running away will likely excite the puppy even more.

A clear separation between children’s toys and puppies toys is also worth establishing.

Careful Interaction

It is not advisable to allow young children to pick up and carry a puppy, as doing so places the puppy at risk of being dropped or hurt if held too tight. Encourage your child to gently handle and stroke the puppy, whilst they are on the floor or in yours or your child’s lap.

If your child enjoys running around, remember that it is very easy for them to tread or fall on the puppy. As such encourage them to be mindful of the puppy at all times.

Limited interaction

In the very early days after getting your puppy, it’s a good idea for puppy/child interaction time to be limited to short sessions, with rest and alone time in between.

A puppy needs rest, peace and quiet, like parents do sometimes!

This will help your child to understand that unlike their favourite toy, a puppy is not an unlimited source of entertainment. A puppy needs rest, peace and quiet, like parents do sometimes! It is also important for your child to not disturb your puppy if it is sleeping.

It’s not advisable to ever leave your puppy/dog and young child together without adult supervision.

Dogs are born with a species appropriate set of behaviours, they are not born with an idea of what we humans expect from them, the responsibility is on us to positively lead and assist them to live successfully and comfortably in a human world.

By teaching your child ‘puppy boundaries ‘ and simultaneously instilling boundaries in your puppy, in the early days, you will be helping forge a loving, trusting and respectful relationship, that will last a lifetime.

Junior Hudson runs Positive Canine Leadership, is a KCAI scheme member (working toward accreditation) and Health Coordinator for The UK Eurasier Club.
www.positive-k9-leadership.co.uk

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