A new dog can be a great addition to a family with children. A dog can help children learn how to treat animals and how to be more active. However, parents should always be cautious when introducing a new dog. When kids meet their dog, they need to learn how to approach and how to act with the dog, and any adults in the family need to keep an eye on both the kids and the dog so that first interactions can go smoothly. Here are some tips on introducing a dog to your kids.
Talk to Your Kids About the Dog Before the Introduction
Some parents want to surprise their kids with a new pet, but if the kids have never lived with a dog before, than it is probably better to tell them about the new dog beforehand. Parents should explain to their kids that the dog may be nervous or scared when entering the home and that the family should learn how to be gentle and how to make a calm environment. One thing that parents can do is teach kids about doggy body language. For instance, parents can teach what a dog does and looks like when its happy, scared, angry, or playful. That way, kids can know when it is safe to approach the dog.
If Possible, Have at Least Two Adults in the Room During the Introduction
Having two adults in the room can mean that one adult can carefully watch the kids while the other watches the dog’s behavior. It is also best to have the dog on a leash at first so that an adult can quickly bring the dog away if need be.
Let the Dog Approach Your Kids First
Instead of having your kids walk straight up to the dog, wait until the dog is comfortable enough to walk towards your kids. Keep a leash on the dog to make sure you can control it if it gets too excited. You will also want to allow your new dog to sniff your kids before they pet it. Have your kids stay still while your leashed dog sniffs their hands.
Show Your Kids How to Pet and How to Give Treats to the Dog
When the dog is comfortable, say to your kids “This is how we pet” and show them where on a dog’s body to put your hand and how to gently stroke. If you want to show your kids how to give a dog a treat, make sure to avoid your dog accidentally nipping your kids’ hands. You can either tell your kids to place the treats on the floor or show them how to hold treats in a flat hand.
Remind Your Kids to be Gentle
Depending on your kids’ ages, they may need to be told more than once not to aggressively pet or pull on the dog’s tail. They many also need to be reminded not to aggressively chase the dog or scream around it, especially if your new pup is nervous about joining the household.
Tell Them When to Not Disturb Your Dog
This mainly applies when your dog is sleeping or eating. Tell your kids that dogs need their rest too, and that a dog in a new environment may especially get startled when disturbed while sleeping. Also teach them that dogs may growl or bite when people get too close to them when they’re eating.
Don’t Leave Small Children Unattended with New Dogs
Small children are still learning how to handle a pet. Leaving them alone with a dog can lead to the kids accidentally hurting the dog and the dog biting back.
Remember, Kids Learn From Observing You
Kids will observe how you treat your dog, so make sure you are always gentle with your pup and use positive reinforcement when training.