How to Introduce Your New Dog to Your Kids

Kids love dogs, and dogs love kids, too — most of the time. Children need to know that the newest four-legged family member may be nervous, overly excited, or even scared to meet them. Loud, quick-moving children can intimidate a dog, especially if she’s not familiar with children.

Explain to your children that first impressions are important, and if the new dog’s first impression of them is one of fear, then the new dog may not want to play with them. Children need to approach a new dog quietly, slowly, and with soft gentle voices.

Have the child sit, then let the dog approach the child while the dog is on a leash held by a responsible adult. Keep control over the dog so she doesn’t jump on the child, and make sure that the child handles the dog gently — no picking up the puppy and carrying her around.

Depending on age, you can let children feed the dog treats or offer her a new toy, but only under strict adult supervision. With your help, the child needs to be in control of when the dog gets the treat. You don’t want your new dog bullying your child to get the treats.

A positive first meeting sends a message to your dog that short little humans are just as nice and safe and rewarding as the taller ones. Your dog can become your child’s best buddy, but maintaining control over the situation is important so the relationship starts off on the right paw.

If your dog reacts too roughly or even fearfully or aggressively toward a child, take the matter seriously and don’t let child and dog interact unsupervised, ever, until the matter is fully resolved. Aggression doesn’t just go away on its own, so consult a professional trainer or behaviorist for advice. Don’t risk any child’s safety.

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