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Is your family welcoming a new four-legged pup soon? Bringing home a dog is a very exciting time. However, there is a ton of preparation that needs to be done before the canine arrives. Outside of puppy proofing your home, getting them a bed, food, and toys, you need to teach your kids how to play with and approach the new dog.
While dogs are known as man’s best friend, it is not uncommon for them to bite humans, especially small children that handle them poorly. According to 2018 dog bite statistics, 55.6 percent of all dog bite fatalities occur in kids less than 10-years-old. Dog bite injuries are also the fifth most frequent cause of emergency room visits for children.
Teaching your kids how to properly handle a puppy is not an easy feat. You will have to continuously remind them how to hold the dog, where they can pet the dog, and much more. These lessons will help facilitate a solid foundation, inspire a good friendship between your children and the canine, and most importantly, keep your child safe.
Here is what you should do before bringing your new pupper home.
How to Handle the Dog
Prior to bringing the dog home, you should teach your kids where they are allowed to pet them. Many young children think that the most effective way to get a dog’s attention is to tap them, grab them, or pick them up. However, these quick and abrupt movements can often spook a dog and cause them to bite the person doing it to them.
To prevent dog attacks, tell your children to slowly approach the dog when they want to play or pet it. They should never sneak up on them from behind, shake them, or poke them. Warn the kids not to touch the pup if they are sleeping.
Educate your kids on the safe spots to pet or touch a dog. Dogs typically like to be touched on the side of their face, under their chin, and on their backs. This might not be true for all dogs, so observe your new pet and see if they have certain quirks and dislikes. Remind your kids that they should never pull on a dog’s tail or legs, even if the canine is calm.
You should also teach your kids to read a dog’s body language. If a dog is standing with a stiff stance, has their ears up, and are glaring at something, it most likely means that they are feeling aggressive. Alternatively, if they are shrunken down and trying to hide, it could mean that they are feeling anxious and nervous. Both of these poses could signify a bite or lurch. Watch your dog to learn their signs and prevent attacks.
First impressions are everything. If your child has a bad first meeting with the new family dog, they might be scared and be unwilling to trust the dog. This is also true for the puppy. Prior to bringing the dog into the house, familiarize them with the smell of your kids. You can do this by giving them a piece of clothing that your kids recently wore. Doing this will hopefully prevent them from jumping on your kids or barking at them when they meet.
When you finally let them into the house, keep them on a leash. Hold them tightly and close to your body so that you can keep them under your control. Allow them to slowly walk around and learn their surroundings. They will want to smell every nook and cranny of the dwelling, if possible. When your kids come, let the canine smell your kids and instruct them to stand very still. If the pup does something that you dislike or displays negative behavior, tug on the leash and say, “no” or “stop.”
While the dog is still adjusting to the house and your family, keep them on a leash. This isn’t meant to punish the dog, but allow it to have the time that it needs to learn their new environment. This will also, hopefully, keep your house in one piece. Stay patient with your new pet and stay patient as you get to know each other.