Bringing a new dog home to your family can be a wonderful and exciting experience. With that being said, you should proceed with caution when it is time to introduce your children to new dogs. This is because it certainly isn’t unheard of for dogs to bite, or react aggressively when they feel threatened.
This is why as parents, we need to be certain that we teach our children the right way to approach a new dog.
Here is a quick breakdown of how to introduce a new dog to kids.
Before Reaching Out
Dogs use their sense of smell to get to know people and their surroundings.
Explain this to your child.
Before letting your child reach out and pet the dog, have your child standstill, just allowing the dog to sniff around.
Avoid offering an open hand for the dog to sniff.
The child can curl in their fingers, and allow the dog to sniff their hands, but don’t push them into the dog’s face.
Use a Leash
Keeping your new friend on a leash is highly recommended so that the dog always remains under your control.
If the dog is trained, you can ask him to “sit” or “stay.”
If the dog gets spooked by too much attention from your little ones and tries to run away, having him on a leash will ensure that you will remain in charge.
Meet Him Halfway
In a calm manner, ask your child to come near the dog from the side, but stop halfway before reaching the dog.
Now the child can gently motion for the dog’s attention.
This will allow the dog to come to the child when he or she is ready.
Most children adore animals, but when they are petting them, they often aren’t aware that they are squeezing or pulling on the dog’s skin.
The child can unknowingly hurt the dog, which may result in the dog turning around and biting them, or behaving aggressively toward them.
This potential problem can be avoided by teaching your children to gently pet the dog’s coat, without any pressure.
Your child should begin by gently stroking the head and neck, and avoiding more sensitive areas such as the belly, ears, tail, and feet.
Explain to a small child that poking, pulling or squeezing is “no good.”
Keep It Calm
It is likely going to be in a child’s natural instinct to want to hug and squeeze their new furry friend, however this should be avoided.
Teach your child to never put their face near their new dog’s face.
Any type of sudden body movement can scare a dog and they might nip at your child.
Explain to your child that they need to speak in a “quiet voice” when they are around their new friend or the dog might get scared.
The Golden Rule
Stress the importance to your children to never interrupt a dog that is in the middle of eating, chewing on anything or sleeping for that matter.
These are times when a dog needs his space.
Watch Body Language
Teach your children to pay attention to what your dog’s body language is saying.
If its tail is sticking out straight, his ears are pulled back and the fur on his back is standing up, you had better be careful when you approach him.
The best thing you can do to ensure your child’s safety with your new dog is to never leave the two of them alone without your supervision.
Even the sweetest of pups with the most well-mannered children can have accidents.