Author Topic: Puppies And Children  (Read 11831 times)

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Offline Jane S

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Puppies And Children
« on: August 15, 2003, 05:02:15 PM »
Puppies And Children
 There are many benefits for a child being brought up with a pet. Teaching them responsibility, improving the child's self esteem and helping them to learn empathy and respect are but a few.

HOWEVER, it is not all straight forward and there are many things to take into consideration before bringing a puppy into the family.  Consider the following points:

Do you have time and patience?
Bringing up a young family means you are extremely busy already.  Puppies require a lot of time and attention to train and socialise.  As with young children, they are very demanding.  A puppy has sharp teeth and claws which may injure a child.  Also, both puppies and children are unpredictable and neither understand the consequences of their actions. It is therefore imperative that puppies and children should be closely supervised at all times.  Do you have the capacity to cope with these extra pressures?'

Introducing your Puppy

To a young puppy children can often be very confusing. Unlike adults children can be very unpredictable. Therefore when you first bring your puppy home great care must be taken to ensure that children realise that it is not merely a plaything, but a living-breathing animal with needs and feelings. Puppies, because they are babies, are somewhat fragile; a well-meaning, curious child who wants to constantly try and pick him up or explore his body by pulling on his ears and legs may injure a puppy. To that extent toddlers should never be allowed to play with a puppy unsupervised. Rough handling could also annoy a puppy and result in the puppy nipping the child.
The use of a Crate or Puppy Playpen can become an invaluable Time-out area for both your child and your puppy if things get too chaotic!! When the puppy is in his Time-out area, children should learn to respect this as meaning the dog has had enough. If both children and dog respect each other, you will have a rewarding and educational experience. Try to encourage the children to copy your behaviour towards the puppy. Children are great mimics and this is the best way of teaching them to help take care of the puppy in the correct manner.

New Baby?

If you are concerned about your dog’s reaction to a new baby you can try the following ideas to get your dog used to the idea of a new baby.
  • Send something home from the hospital with the new babies smell, let the dog smell this and have it.  When the baby comes home from hospital the baby will not be quite so strange or interesting.
  • Remember, your dog needs you too! Spare at least a few minutes a day for a special hug with your dog.
  • Don’t try too hard to keep the dog and baby apart. You will not be able to keep this up forever and the dog will just get more and more determined and curious. Let them meet as soon as often as possible, always under constant supervision.
  • Give the dog plenty of treats when he is with the baby. He will then associate being in the presence of the baby as a pleasant experience and nothing to worry about.
Feeding & Treats

Involve your children in the feeding routine as much as possible. Involving your children in all aspects of your puppies care is an important part of their relationship.
  • If your child is old enough, get them to make the whole meal.
  • If your child is younger get them to put the bowl down.
  • Children are extremely good at sneaking treats to the dog! When a child offers a treat, the dog must obey the command before receiving it, just as it would with you.
  • If your child is fearful or too young, they may jerk their hand away causing the dog to lunge or jump up. Put the treat flat on the palm of your child’s hand and rest their palm inside your own to guide them.
Petting

Children often want to hug dogs around the neck. Your dog may see this as a threatening gesture and sometimes very young children can be over zealous when showing their dog affection. Therefore teach your child to pet your dog underneath the chin rather than hugging him or reaching over his head.  

Never allow a small child to pick up a puppy, it is much better to make your child sit cross legged on the floor and then place the puppy on your child’s lap supervising at all times.

Remember, your child should not treat a dog as a toy. Do not allow your child to instigate play when your dog is sleeping or taking ‘time out’.  Teach your child to respect that the puppy needs his own time & space and should be left alone.

Possessions

Your dog does not understand the difference between his toys and your child’s therefore you will need to teach him the difference.
  • You and your child must take responsibility for keeping playthings out of your dogs reach.
  • Make sure you don’t leave items of clothing lying around. Most dogs are quite fond of picking up socks etc, however these can be dangerous and a choking hazard to a small puppy.
  • Do not give your dog objects to play with such as old shoes or children’s toys or anything that may resemble items that are off limits. Your dog will never be able to tell the difference.
  • Your dog’s crate/playpen is his own personal space. Make sure that your children respect this and leave your puppy well alone whilst he is resting. This will be quite often in the early days as young puppies sleep a lot.
Games & Playing

Children move with quick, jerky movements, have high-pitched voices and often run, rather than walk. All of these behaviours can be very confusing and sometimes misinterpreted by your young puppy.  Your dog may respond to your child’s behaviour by chasing him, nipping at his heels, jumping up or even trying to knock him down.
Your dog must learn what kinds of games are acceptable, but must also be taught what games are the right ones to play. Do not allow your child to play any kind of fighting or tug of war games with your puppy, your puppy might not be very big now, but is it still acceptable for him to play these kinds of games when he is full grown and much stronger??

Good games your child can play with your puppy are,
  • Throwing a soft ball or small soft toy
  • Any kind of searching game, hide a small treat and get your puppy to sniff it out
  • Older children may enjoy going along to puppy obedience classes and may even take part in agility or showing
Grooming

Once you are confident in grooming your dog and you are satisfied that your dog behaves well during this process, gradually allow your child to help under your supervision.

Finally......

In conclusion, if you have very young children, think very hard whether you could cope with the necessary hard work involved in training a puppy successfully. Puppies require a lot of time, patience and close supervision. They also require socialization in order to become well-adjusted adult dogs. This means they need to be taken places and exposed to new things and new people & other dogs. If you have a young child/children you have to seriously consider whether you will have enough time & energy to care for the puppy as well.

But remember there are also many benefits for a child/children who grow up in a caring relationship with a dog. For many children, dogs can make a very special friend.

By Gillian Ure & Mary Woodman 2003
Jane