Many families consider the addition of a new puppy at some point while their children are young. When doing so, there are a few tactics that will help keep adults, children and canines safe and happy.
Choosing the New Puppy
Choosing the new puppy wisely can make a big difference in the future relationship between your kids and your puppy. Choose a puppy that is outgoing and friendly rather than timid and fearful.
Fearful puppies will cower and move away from human contact. When approached, their ears will be down or back on the head instead of standing or pointing forward. A fearful puppy may yawn frequently, may shiver and, if cornered, may even show his teeth, growl and try to bite.
By contrast, outgoing puppies are confident and adventurous. They will approach strangers without hesitation and even solicit attention in some instances.
Proper Socialization of the New Puppy
Properly socializing any puppy is an important part of the canine training process. Early socialization has a huge impact on the future temperament of the dog.
The best time to socialize a puppy is before three to four months of age. After that, socialization is still possible, but it is more difficult to overcome any fears that the puppy has begun to develop.
Socialize your new puppy by introducing him to as many new people, pets and situations as you are able. This includes introducing your new puppy to your children and your children’s friends. The more your puppy is exposed to at this early age, the more confident and well-adjusted he will be as an adult.
Keep in mind, however, that young puppies are at increased risk for infectious disease. Other dogs or puppies should be healthy and well-vaccinated before your puppy is introduced.
Basic Training for the New Puppy
Teaching your puppy basic commands, such as sit, stay and come, is essential. By doing so, you will have more control over his behavior.
Remember that large breed puppies can quickly outgrow young children and may be able to knock a child to the ground even with normal play behavior. The puppy’s behavior must be guided toward an appropriate method of play, and the child must also be instructed about how to play safely with the puppy as he grows.
Kids and Puppies Together
Your children and your new puppy should be allowed to interact and play with one another. Rough play and behaviors such as hair pulling and tail yanking should not be allowed. Young children should always be supervised by an adult when playing with a pet.
The puppy should be separated from your kids at meal time. Feeding your new puppy from the table will teach him to beg and steal food.
Your new puppy should also be allowed to eat his own meal in privacy, without interruption from the kids.
Kids often enjoy being able to participate in the puppy’s training process, and the child should be encouraged to do so with the guidance of an adult.
Parasites, Puppies and Kids
Parasites and other zoonotic diseases associated with a puppy or even an adult dog can be a major health risk for children, leading to complications such as blindness, seizures, skin lesions and other health issues. However, the risk is easily managed by following some simple hygiene protocols.
Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, are one of the primary threats to children from an infected puppy. All puppies should be strategically dewormed beginning as early as 2-3 weeks of age.
In addition, feces should be removed from contaminated areas as soon as possible. Children should not handle the feces of the puppy and should be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly with hand soap on a frequent basis. Puppies should be discouraged from licking the mouth and face, especially with young children.
Children and Puppies: A Happy Family
By choosing a new puppy wisely, properly socializing and training the puppy, providing adequate veterinary care and teaching children the proper way to interact with a puppy, adding a new canine to the family can be a rewarding experience that lasts for years.