Introducing Your Kids To a New Dog: A Guide

In these gloomy and uncertain times, a new pet can make a splendid addition to the household. They can inject a newfound sense of life, vitality and optimism into the home. They can bring a little extra love and companionship that helps to bring the whole family together. They can give us a reason to take our daily dose of outdoor exercise every day, and reap the mental and physical health benefits (while observing social distancing, of course). Introducing your kids to a new pet can be a joyous occasion… but one that comes with caveats.


From the day your kids first meet your new pet, they need to be aware of their responsibilities and how to behave around their new friend. Here are some tips to help you make the perfect introduction and begin a friendship that will endure for years.

Preparing your child
If your child has been imploring you to get a dog or other pet for a long time, it’s vital that they understand their responsibilities toward the animal. They need to understand and accept the responsibility of feeding, cleaning up after, and exercising their new friend.

Moreover, it’s vital that you teach your child to understand canine behavior and exercise restraint. Kids tend to struggle with controlling their excitement, as can young pups. If the two get over excited, this is where misunderstandings can occur. You may also want to consider comfortable muzzle if your child is very nervous, until they are fully accustomed to their new friend. Mishaps often occur when children don’t understand canine body language. The better they understand this, the better they can handle themselves around your dog and others that they may encounter.

We tend to think of dogs as little furry people, but they are little wolves with a very different set of instincts to us. Misunderstandings are part of the reason why over 4 million people suffer dog bite injuries every year. Kids tend to be grabby by nature and need to be conditioned to stop petting and playing when they see dogs the following behaviors:

  • Licking their lips
  • Yawning
  • Turning away
  • Twitching
  • Raising their hackles
  • Hanging their tail

Preparing your dog
Likewise, your dog needs to be properly prepared for interaction with your little one. Pups play much like little boys… by demonstrating mock aggression and displays of fighting or hunting behaviors. A nip from a dog is just part of normal play for them… but can be traumatizing for kids. Your child needs to realize this and respond appropriately when the dog gets over-excited. Standing still like a tree with their hands by their side and ignoring the dog is a good habit to get into. Sensing that the game is over they’ll quickly calm down. Dogs are natural scavengers and have evolved needing to fight for their food. Therefore, fast-moving human hands are likely to be misunderstood as aggressive moves. The good news is that you can get dogs to unlearn this behavior. Building positive associations with physical contact from humans such as stroking, nuzzling, and giving them a treat to reward good behavior.

With a little knowledge and discipline, you can create a friendship that will last a lifetime!
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