Your children need to be taught that the puppy is not a toy or doll, and should not be disturbed when resting or sleeping, picked up, cuddled, hugged, kissed, carried around, or dressed up, all of which can make it grumpy and snappy.

Toddlers and young children often unwittingly encourage puppies to chase and play bite them, so you should only let them interact under your supervision. Keep them apart (use a child-gate or playpen) if one or the other is having an exuberant moment, and never leave them alone together.

However, even older children (and some adults!) can be excitable and inconsistent or over-stimulating the puppy one minute, and then telling it off (and often hitting it) the next. Children (and puppies) are not known for their patience, so both need to be taught how to be gentle with each other. You and your children should not play rough and aggressive games with your puppy as this can encourage aggressive behaviour later on. Do not play fight with each other or taunt the puppy to make it protective or jealous, because this tends to backfire badly later if the dog ever misjudges the situation. Most puppies dislike close face-to-face contact, unless they have instigated it themselves, so keep faces away from the puppy’s, or risk being bitten on the face!

Never let children ambush or force themselves on the puppy. If they want to play, the puppy should be invited over, but do not let the children force the issue if the puppy does not want to go to them. The children must be made to understand the importance of having ‘quiet time’ with the puppy, and give it space and peace and quiet when it wants it.

Puppies will often steal, chew and swallow children’s toys and clothes for attention, so teach your children tidy habits, or your puppy will spend its youth at the veterinary practice having things surgically removed from it (or worse, it could die).

Children have to be 10 years old or over to be legally responsible for a dog outside their homes.

Teach your children the Doggy Dos and Don’ts

Dog bite injuries are a problem in all societies, but a high majority of these injuries are preventable with the correct education. Most dog biting incidents happen in the home and many people are simply unaware of the simple measures that can be taken to avoid problems. The language used by dogs is subtle and children are prone to misinterpreting it, which can lead to biting incidents.

The vocal noises and body postures need to be translated so that children can become conversant in canine behaviour and happily ‘speak dog’. Living with dogs enriches children’s lives. Taking care of a dog is an excellent way of teaching a child to take responsibility, express empathy, get some exercise and to have fun. Dogs can also significantly help to raise their self-esteem.

It is the responsibility of adults; especially parents and teachers, to make sure that these valuable child/dog relationships are nurtured so that one understands the other.

Children must learn to ask a dog’s owner permission before petting their dog.





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