Kids and puppies

November 22nd 2019

Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for children. Owning a dog helps teach children patience, responsibility, empathy, increases self-esteem, keeps them fit and has other health benefits. But it is the responsibility of adults to make sure that the relationship is appropriate and fair.
Sadly, most dog bites happen to children under the age of 6 living in the home, and most parents claim it appeared to happen ‘out of the blue’.

I have previously been asked by parents for help because their child won’t leave their puppy alone and it has started to growl. It’s a bit like asking for advice because their child wont leave the knife drawer alone. Advice involves educating them on the importance of appropriate interactions and management.
Some rules we have in our home:
– Leave the puppy alone when she is sleeping, eating and chewing.
– No playing outside until she has gone to the toilet.
– Keep toys low to the ground to avoid her jumping/leaping for the toy. Play is always focused on toys, not hands. Respect her if she doesn’t want to interact.
– If she bites at their clothing (usually a symptom of over-tiredness anyway, so management on my part), stay still and grab the nearest toy to substitute (there is always an item within reach!).
– If she starts to chase them or get involved when they are playing between themselves, to stop and wait for a grown-up to remove the puppy.
– Be gentle in their physical interactions with her. We encourage hands-off activities as much as possible such as training and search games. Certainly no pulling or sitting on.
– To keep toys off the floor in the puppy’s area.