How do I introduce my children to a young puppy?
The steps below are a rough guide because the introduction will depend on the age of your children, the age of the puppy, and the size and temperament of the puppy. If it’s an adult dog you are introducing to the family, be extra careful and don’t allow the child to pick up an adult dog.
Even if your children already know how to treat a dog, it’s still a good idea to follow these steps. Each puppy (or dog) is different.
Step 1. Have your children out of the house while the puppy is getting used to the house and the yard. Then introduce your puppy to the room you have prepared for it, with its bed. That room should be its safe place for the times when it needs to rest, or when it is anxious and needs a sanctuary. That safe place is off limits to the children.
Step 2. When the puppy is in its safe place have the children enter the house and sit calmly in another room nearby. Then call (or bring out) the puppy.
Step 3. While the children remain seated, let the puppy approach them. That might take some time. The children shouldn’t call the puppy; the puppy should proceed at its own pace. When it does approach a child, the child can put out their hand for the puppy (or dog) to sniff. If the puppy seems relaxed, the child can stroke it and say a few calm words.
The key is: proceed at the puppy’s pace so that it doesn’t get stressed. If it does get stressed take it to its safe place.
When the introductions are over give the puppy a toy to play with.
If the puppy is hyperactive it might be stressed. Have everyone in the room remain calm and seated. Let the puppy relax itself. When it is relaxed resume the introductions.
Step 4. If and when you are going to allow the child to pick the puppy up and hold it, show them how to do it. Watch your children for a few days to make sure they develop the habit of picking up the puppy the right way.