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Train Your Puppy To Play Nice With Kids

Kids love puppies! It seems they were made to go together like milk and cookies. By age five, kids can be taught the basics of how to train a dog. However, there are a few things to consider before you bring a puppy into your home with a young child:

Contrary to wishful stereotypes, kids and puppies don’t do all that well together. Puppies have those sharp little needle teeth and delicate skin. Though pups love playtime, a romp with a child six times their size can be way too demanding, even harmful. Never buy a puppy for your child; buy a pup for yourself and the whole family; the care, feeding, training, supervision and safety of the dog is your responsibility, not your child’s.

Is your child old and mature enough to understand that it hurts the puppy when he plays tug-of-war with the pup’s ears and tail? Does your child know how fragile puppies really are? If it takes eight pounds of direct pressure to break the bones of an adult human, think how little it takes to break the still-growing bones of a pup if she’s the landing site of a rowdy, unsupervised four-year-old.

When puppies are still with their mother and litter mates, they roll around with each other and do some body slams worthy of the WWF! But these puppies are evenly-matched; in a “game” of child vs. puppy, the pup has no chance. After repeated smack-downs, this is a great way to make your puppy fearful and/or aggressive with children.

If you decide that your child is capable and ready to interact safely with a puppy, consider these pointers, courtesy of trainer Pamela Dennison in Positive Dog Training:

  • Always supervise your child’s interaction with the puppy.
  • R.E.S.P.E.C. T. is essential; your child must be aware that a puppy is a living creature who feels pain and fear when mistreated, even unintentionally. Puppies are not toys.
  • Never let your child discipline the puppy or vice versa. This is your job.
  • Watch your puppy for signs of fear and stress after interacting with your child. If your pup is hiding, whimpering or comes to you for protection, end your child’s involvement with the puppy for a while.
  • Teach your child responsible training methods for teaching the puppy to sit, stay, or lie down. If your child doesn’t “get it,” don’t allow him/her to improperly train the puppy to misbehave.

It certainly is possible to create a good atmosphere between children and puppies. But always keep this in mind: Most of the dog bites that happen to small children occur with the family’s own dog.

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