How do I introduce my kids to my dog? Here’s What to Expect

1 Know How to Handle Scary Interaction Between Your Dog and Child

Be prepared. Realize there could be problems that arise between children and dogs. The first thing you need to do is focus on safety. Make sure you have whatever tools you need to guarantee the safety of your children: baby gates, closed doors, leashes, crates, even muzzles.

If a bad incident does occur, you need to “repair” the situation to the best of your ability. Think of it this way: If your dog growls, barks, snaps, bites, or runs away, and you tell the kids to go play in the other room, your dog could think his aggression worked — and is more likely to continue in the future. That’s conditioning 101; it’s how dogs learn.

Instead remain calm and ease the situation, keep your dog from being aggressive, and also from running away (i.e. blocking both the “fight” and the “flight”). This can help create a positive, social, situation together. Only, then send the kids (or dog) away. That’s the last thing he’ll remember. The aggression didn’t send his enemies away; being calm and peaceful did.

1 Have a Safe Spot for Your Dog.

As for specific obedience behaviors, Newman loves “go to your bed” (mentioned earlier) Having multiple beds around can be a huge help. He’s trained his dogs so that when his toddler comes stumbling over, smashing the floor with a toy fighter jet, the dogs jump up and move to a different bed — even to a different floor.

He started with baby gates, light leashes, and working the “leave it” and “go to your bed/crate/kennel/home/whatever” obedience commands, and now they’ve internalized it. To snap at his son, or any kid who comes over for a playdate, Newman says his dogs would have to be completely trapped in a corner. Otherwise they move of their own accord to a different bed. Again, you have to train and enforce this at the beginning, then they’ll start to generalize it.

Teach Your Child How to Pet Your Dog

Spend time each day teaching your toddler how to treat your dog. Sit close to your dog with your toddler on your lap. Start by holding your hand under your dogs nose to allow the dog to sniff it. Then hold your toddlers hand and have the dog do the same. Next, pet your dog gently, and then hold your toddlers hand and repeat your actions. Use simple terms such as “sniff hand” and “gentle” to let your toddler know what youre doing. If your toddler gets too rough, tell the child no, and explain that they can hurt the dog. Move your tot away from the dog if the child continues to be too rough and try again when your toddler is calmer. Teaching your toddler these exercises can also go a long way in keeping them safe around strange dogs.

How to introduce your children to your dog

Kids and puppies have lots in common: They’re inquisitive, impatient, and easily excited! This is why it’s important to carefully supervise first encounters between a new puppy and your children. The rewards can be wonderful — a truly close bond and a lifelong love of dogs. But, if you don’t take precautions, a few mistakes could lead to a much less happy ending.