A new puppy is a welcome addition to any family. Kids love showing affection to their new pup, and a positive first experience can establish an enduring friendship to last a lifetime!
But, it can be daunting introducing puppies to young children for the first time. We’ve all heard the horror stories. So, here’s a step-by-step to make it a much smoother transition:
Talk to Your Kids First
Before introducing your kids to their new puppy, take some time to talk to them about it. Discuss what will happen, when the puppy will arrive, how they should behave, as well as pointers for taking care of their pet. This is particularly important for younger kids to set that expectation early.
If they haven’t had a dog at home before, the reality of the experience – especially toilet training and night-time howling! – might be a substantial adjustment. Give your kids the power of knowledge, and help them to understand that alongside the excitement of getting a puppy comes responsibility. This needn’t be a discouraging conversation; rather, it’s a great opportunity for your kids to learn valuable life lessons!
Don’t Overwhelm Your Puppy
When your puppy moves in, they’ll suddenly be met with countless new sights, sounds, and smells to investigate. While your kids will undoubtedly be excited about meeting their new pet, it’s important not to overstimulate or frighten the puppy with an excess of enthusiasm.
Overexcitement is often contagious, so it can be helpful to introduce each child in your family individually. Create a relaxed environment, with just a couple of toys, something soft for your puppy to rest on, and – most importantly – calm voices. Make sure that cuddles are gentle, and allow your puppy to get up and move around if they don’t want to be held anymore.
It’s absolutely essential that kids are supervised when they meet your new puppy, especially if young children are involved. While it’s unlikely that anyone will have a negative experience, you’ll be on hand to make sure the introduction is going well, and to gently reign in any over-enthusiastic behaviour that might startle the puppy and make them act out.
You’ll also be able to provide lots of encouragement if any of your children are nervous around dogs. An affirming experience with their new pet can completely change their perception, giving kids valuable confidence – not only around their own puppy, but to other dogs too.
Take a Walk!
An excellent way for kids and puppies alike to burn off some of their excitable energy is to take a walk together in the garden. Give your children the chance to hold the lead or walk alongside the puppy, and if they’re younger, to help you hold it. Bring some treats along and allow the kids to reward their puppy’s good behaviour. Don’t forget, your new pup only has little legs, so keep the walk *short and sweet!
Complete Puppy Care Tasks Together
Kids love to be involved in tasks that make them feel responsible and grown up. There are lots of ways that they can take ownership of puppy care. For example, puppy’s first bath is likely going to need all hands on deck, so it’s a good idea to assign jobs to each of your children, such as:
- Running the bath water and getting it to the right temperature
- Grab shampoo, cleaning accessories, and a towel
- Gently pour water on your puppy, or use a shower head on a low-power setting
- Apply and lather shampoo
- Rinse off
- Towel dry
You can rotate tasks at each bath time, so that your kids become little experts in puppy care! Apply this principle to other day-to-day responsibilities, such as feeding, brushing, and toilet training.
Respect Your Puppy’s Need for Quiet Time
Puppies will give clear cues when they want to take a break from all the fussing and attention. They might try to hide, go to their bed or crate, or persistently wriggle away from human hands.
Don’t be alarmed; they just want some time alone. Explain to your kids that while they might never want to let their puppy go (who can blame them?), it’s important to give a pet space when they need it.
A time-out gives you a brilliant opportunity to find out how your kids felt about meeting their puppy for the first time. They can let out all their excitement without frightening the pup!
The most important thing to remember, and to impart on your kids, is to be patient. This is an exciting change for everyone; the first day of a happy and loving life together!
*The Puppy Toolbox, brought to you by guest blogger Charlotte is the number #1 puppy care magazine for your new addition until they are a year old. Created by puppy lovers and experts, for raising your new pooch!