Socializing Your Puppy To Children

February 2016//Children and Puppies


Kids and puppies have lots in common — They’re inquisitive, impatient, and easily excited! This is why it’s important to carefully supervise first encounters between a new puppy and your children.


Let the puppy nose his way to the kids.
Not the other way around. This can be very hard for children to understand. They can get excited when they see a dog and want to rush up and start petting it — which can provoke a reaction from the dog. Never force your puppy to interact with a child if he doesn’t want to. Learn your puppy’s body language.

Go at your puppy’s pace
If your puppy is nervous around children, it is important to build up his confidence slowly. Determine how close your puppy can be to children and still be comfortable. Begin pairing fun activities like playing or eating treats with your puppy seeing children at his comfortable distance. Gradually decrease the distance between your puppy and children as his confidence grows. If your puppy is fearful of kids, consult a professional, positive reinforcement dog trainer to help you with this process.

Fearful period
Between eight and ten weeks, a new puppy is in what’s called a fearful period as he explores the world. Combine that with the fact that both children and puppies are easily excited, which may lead to misunderstandings that place both on the defensive. Slow, patient interactions leave room for everyone to learn what behavior feels fun and safe.

Always be present
Until you’re sure that the puppy and the child know how to behave around each other. Be observant and ready to step in if a situation looks like it’s going wrong. You don’t want your puppy to accidentally harm your child or vice versa. If you have to leave the room, put your puppy away in a child/puppy proof area (like his kennel).

Respect your pups space zones
Teach your children that dogs have zones of space that should be respected. There’s a public zone, a social zone, and an intimate zone. The intimate zone is a place your puppy can go to get away for some quite time, we all need it, so does your puppy. Respect that space.

Know when to back off
know when to walk away from a situation that could be detrimental to the socialization process. If you know your puppy will get too excited, or that a child is going to be too much for your puppy, kindly (and in some cases firmly) say “no” and move away.

Approaching your puppy
Model the way that you want your kids to approach your pup, it’s best to call the pup to you, rather than approaching the pup. Once they learn this at home, they’ll understand the safe way to approach others dogs, too.

Include the kids on your walks
Your child will help you teach the puppy to obey and follow your and your child’s lead. These early lessons will nurture and strengthen a healthy owner-dog relationship as both child and puppy mature.

Have your kids help you take care of the puppy
Having a dog is a great way to set rules for your children and teach them about responsibilities. Depending on the age of your kids, they should be able — and expected — to walk the puppy, feed him, and clean up after him (under supervision), this will help the dog to bond to the children and to be respected. Both children and puppies learn by doing.

Over-socialization or unpleasant socialization
Can be just as bad as insufficient socialization. Taking your puppy to the local soccer game and letting 10 children pet him at once may be overwhelming, and in some cases actually undermine the socialization process. Sit in an area where you can monitor how many children approach your puppy and end the session before your puppy can get overwhelmed or over stimulated.

Never allow kids to pick up, hug, or heavily pet your puppy
Puppies that are exposed to this can learn that children are no fun and the best thing to do is avoid them all together—or worse.

Do not allow your puppy to interact roughly with kids
When kids are running or wrestling, redirect your puppy with some obedience work, a game, an interactive toy, or put him away in a puppy-proof area that your child cannot access to prevent him from practicing bad behavior such as nipping, chasing, biting, etc.

Never punish your puppy for growling or snapping at a child
Instead, seek professional advice as soon as possible. You may do more harm than good by trying to correct this behavior yourself. Get help from a qualified professional dog trainer — the sooner you can put your puppy on-track, the better as the longer you let an issue fester, the worse it will get making it harder to correct.

Knowledge is power
Prepare for the arrival of your new puppy in advance by researching, reading books and most important, enroll your puppy in a local puppy class where you will get sound advice on training and socializing — don’t forget to bring the kids!


Related Links:

The Ins and Outs of Socializing Puppies to Children

Exposing your new puppy to children is a very important, but often overlooked, area of socialization. Here are some things to keep in mind to help ensure your puppy becomes familiar with and happy around children.

How Can I Socialize My Puppy With Kids?




The right way for a child to approach a dog to ensure that the first connection is a complete success begins with this question to the owner: “May I pet your dog?” This is the essential guide to bringing children and dogs together. Order Here


Humorous how-to manual shows kids the best ways to interact with unfamiliar dogs, providing helpful tips about all sorts of dog behavior.   Order Here


Toddlers and pets belong together—as long as toddlers don’t chase, grab, squeeze, yank, and tease. In simple words, this book teaches the basics of kindness to animals.  Order Here


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