How To Introduce A New Puppy To Your Kids
Officially the cutest BFFs ever 👶🐶
You’re beyond excited to bring home a new puppy — but will your kids love her, too?
When adding a puppy to your family, it’s important to help the new arrival get along with everyone in your home, especially the littlest ones.
If you don’t know how to introduce puppies and kids, never fear!
The Dodo spoke with Iris Ulbrich, a behavior consultant and trainer with Tully’s Training in Los Angeles, to find out the best way for your kids to get to know their new pup.
How to introduce puppies and kids
When introducing puppies and kids, you want to make sure your puppy feels really comfortable, especially since she’s probably in a new environment.
“Initially focus on a calm setup for the introduction, [with] no physical restrictions on the puppy, [and] let the kids sit calmly on the ground, on the puppy’s level,” Ulbrich told The Dodo.
If you want to let your kids give your new puppy treats, make sure they’re holding the treats out in a flat hand (not pinched between their fingers).
“The puppy should feel free to sniff the kids and take a few treats, but always be able to walk away when overwhelmed,” Ulbrich explained.
Ulbrich recommends using medium-value treats, so your puppy doesn’t start getting protective over them.
Your kids are definitely going to be super giddy about meeting an adorable puppy, but it’s important to make sure they stay calm when actually interacting with their soon-to-be-BFF.
“What kids should do is learn how to politely greet a dog, how to play with the puppy without touching the dog or being overly excited with the puppy,” Ulbrich explained.
What NOT to do when introducing puppies and kids
When introducing puppies and kids, there are certain things you should absolutely avoid.
“[It’s] more important to teach kids what not to do with dogs,” Ulbrich said.
For example, it’s best to make sure your kids know to leave your puppy alone while she’s eating — even though you know they want to spend absolutely every second with her.
Other things your kids should NOT do include:
- Grabbing, pulling or chasing the puppy
- Taking toys from the puppy
- Putting their face too close to the puppy’s face
- Climbing into a puppy’s crate or bed
- Riding the puppy
- Trampling the puppy
- Hugging the puppy
- Yelling or shouting near the puppy
According to Ulbrich, squeaky balls and tug-of-war toys are great for playing with a new puppy without any accidental biting or nipping.
Things to watch out for when introducing puppies and kids
These introductions don’t always go perfectly — and that’s totally OK, as long as you know how to turn things around.
So it’s important to know what to watch out for.
“If the puppy tried to run away or hide, things probably aren’t going too well,” Ulbrich explained.
If your puppy is scared or anxious, she might show signs like:
- Licking lips
- Excessive panting
- Furrowed brows
- Ears to the side
- Walking in slow motion
- Hyperactive scanning
“A huge red flag is a puppy not taking treats any longer, or worse, turning away,” Ulbrich said.
And if your puppy and kids don’t get along flawlessly the first time, don’t worry! It won’t necessarily be like that forever.
“Dogs can be timid around kids at first and come out of their shell as long as the kids know how to appropriately interact with the dog,” Ulbrich explained.
But if the fear and anxiety continue, she recommends contacting a behaviorist to see if your puppy has any underlying issues you need to help her with.
Signs your puppy LOVES your kids
If you want to know if your puppy and kids are actually getting along, there are some surefire signs that your pup is having a good time.
- Having a loose, wiggly body
- Coming back for more interaction with the kids
- Eating treats being offered
If you’re seeing any of those things when your puppy is around your kids, that means they’re on the fast track to becoming BFFs!
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