Are you worried about how your puppy will handle the new baby? Or maybe you’re thinking of adopting a puppy after you have a child. Whether you’re bringing a puppy into a baby’s life or the other way around, having a pet can provide many benefits for children. Some breeds are better with young children than others but introducing any puppy to a baby requires time, specific techniques, and supervision.
Is It Safe?
Many people will tell you that puppies are a lot of work and that it’s better to bring one home when your children are older. Yes, it’s a lot of work but it’s certainly not unsafe. There is no reason why your puppy and your child cannot grow up together. While every family’s situation is different, it’s never too late to introduce your little one to their furry companion.
In general, you should not leave the puppy and the baby unsupervised (and off-leash) until the puppy is at least six months old and your child is six or more. Young puppies don’t know how to deal with infants or toddlers. In turn, your child should be old enough to understand the rules about the dog.
Introducing Puppies and Babies to Each Other
The first thing is to create a safe and clean environment for puppies and babies to interact with each other. Even if you clean the house regularly, pet hair can get everywhere. For instance, the underside of furniture is the perfect place for pet hair and dust to accumulate. Natart dressers have covered bottoms to prevent pet hair and dander from collecting in hidden spaces. Even with appropriate furniture, it’s a good idea not to allow the puppy into the nurser. Use a baby gate so the puppy can see into the room.
Both the puppy and your baby should get used to seeing, smelling and hearing the other. Introduce them to each other for a few minutes at first and gauge their reactions. If it goes well, increase the time they spent together over several days. Remember that both puppies and babies need your undivided attention! It’s much easier to create good habits when both the dog and your child are young.
Training and Behavior
Most children love animals, especially dogs. They get excited and start chasing them around. But your puppy may not understand that. Teach your child not to pull tails and ears by having them watch you while you play with the puppy. Take their hand and teach them how to pet the puppy. If they attempt to grab the puppy, gently restrain them and explain that it’s not correct. Stay calm at all times, raising your voice can scare the baby and the puppy.
You should train the puppy on how to interact with the baby as well. Puppy teeth are sharp and they will often try to nip at the baby since that’s how they play with other pups. Praise the puppy in a calm voice and offer treats if they behave well around the baby. If the dog starts playing in a rough manner, separate them while saying no firmly. Puppies should learn what’s ok and what isn’t when it comes to small children.
There are many games you can play with both your child and the puppy. Play is a great way to train the puppy. It also allows your child to have positive experiences with the dog while you supervise.
Teach your kids to throw a ball for the puppy. Train the puppy to fetch the ball and drop it in front of the child (not you). Take both of them for walks around the neighborhood. If your baby is old enough to walk on their own, you can let them ‘walk’ the dog. Attach two leashes to the puppy’s collar and give one to your child. They will love walking the dog with you.
Another good activity is to read to them. Dogs and children are excellent listeners for new readers. It is a great bonding experience for the entire family. With a bit of learning and preparation, you can set the foundation for a great relationship between your child and the dog for the rest of their lives!