With more people staying at home than ever, many are deciding to bring new furry family members into their homes. Oftentimes, these homes have children in them from a wide range of ages.
Introducing a new dog to their new family and environment can go both smoothly, and not so smoothly. The introduction between children and dogs is possibly the most important, as the kids are going to be there the most and around the dog the most.
This is a relationship that needs to thrive from the get-go. In terms of introductions, it is similar to introducing a dog to a new environment without kids.
It’s important to be patient and slow with the introduction process. If you have multiple children in the house, consider introducing them to the dog, or introducing the dog to them one at a time.
This makes for a more relaxing and comforting space for the dog, as they can smell and get trust in one individual at a time, rather than being overwhelmed by more than one new face and new smell at once.
If you are able, it is recommended to keep the new dog on a leash during this introductory time. It’s important that you have the ability to take hold of the situation if things go South.
Introducing children to a dog is not much different than introducing a dog to another dog. The first thing to instill is to have the dog be able to walk to the child first, and not the child walk to the dog. Make sure the dog has plenty of space to go at their own pace.
After this, be sure to let the dog smell the child first before contact is made. Have the child reach out their hand with their fingers curled in front of the dog, making sure to not be forcing their hand into the pup’s face.
After this, be sure that children know how to calmly and gently pet a dog. Once the dog is comfortable with the scent, they can gently pet the dog. Be sure that you show children what a gentle pet is, as oftentimes children can be too rough and upset a dog.
The last important thing to remember is to have your child or children remain calm. Getting a new dog is a very exciting thing, but if children are tooaggressive, this can hurt the dog’s immediate trust and their relationship to the new environment.
While the first introduction may go well, it is important to remain vigilant. Make sure that the children in the home know to give a new dog plenty of space, and allow the dog to come to them when it wants to, as this will increase the dog’s trust.
Avoid loud noises and sudden movements with a new dog. Allow them to remain safe and calm in their new environment. Another important point to instill in children with a new dog is to not interrupt a dog when it is eating or sleeping, this is especially important with a new dog that isn’t comfortable with its surroundings yet.
Many dogs when interrupted in either of these times may interpret it as a threat, and may growl, bark, or bite. Avoid this by making sure that the children in the home know that when the dog is eating or sleeping, they are not to go near the dog or interrupt it.
The biggest point to keep in mind is to never leave children and a pet, especially a new dog, alone together without supervision. This is both for your child’s safety, as well as your dog’s safety. Eventually, you can leave the two together, but for the first good bit of time of having a new dog, it is important to remain vigilant to make sure that no issues are arising.
Remember, you are trying to build a trusting relationship between your family and your new furry friend. Watch the dog’s tail and body expressions It is essential to be able to read your new dog’s expressions. Dogs express how they are feeling through their tail, ears, and body.
A dog with a rigid tail, ears pulled back, and fur sticking up is a dog that is not interested in being approached. Teach children the signs on how to read a dog, as this will help you with your new pup, as well as dogs that they meet in the future.
These tips will help set you up for success and a loving thriving relationship with your children and your newly adopted best friend. Your family’s relationship with your dog will thrive from the start when following these tips.
Be sure to remain calm with a new dog, and teach proper dog etiquette to allow for a trusting relationship, to begin with. Teach children how to pet a dog properly, how to introduce themselves to a dog properly, and how to read a dog’s tail and body expressions. Like with most things in life, do not leave children unattended with a dog, especially when it is a new dog to the family.
Make sure to keep a vigilant eye on a dog and child’s interaction, and step in when you need to.
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Meet The Author
Kendall Abbott obtained her Bachelor's Degree at the University of Kansas, she then went on to pursue her education and love for animals by attending the Animal Behavior College. When she isn't working Kendall enjoys hiking with her two dogs Oscar and Tank. She also loves taking time out of her day to coach her nieces youth basketball team.