Few images are as evocative of trust, loyalty, and friendship as a child with a puppy. Bonds formed between humans and dogs can be made incredibly strong when the relationship is formed early on, but it’s very important that our children be taught how to interact safely and responsibly with their canine companions.
Greeting a puppy:
- Teach the child about “No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact.”
- The introduction between puppy and child should be delayed until the child’s excitement has passed and he or she is in a calm state of mind, able to focus on adult instruction. Never allow the child to make the first move.
- Keep an eye on the child’s energy levels and note the puppy’s reactions. Once you are satisfied that the situation is safe and under your control, show the child the proper way to give affection.
- Safety first! Don’t be afraid to say no… if the situation appears unsafe for puppy or child, inform the child that the dog is in training and can’t be pet.
Keep an eye on the scene at all times! Puppies and children should never be left alone together without adult supervision.
- Set some ground rules for off-limits play. Be sure that the child understands not to pull the puppy’s ears or tail.
- Keep watch for signs of rough play, and correct the child or redirect his or her energy when needed.
- Observe the puppy’s body language. Step in when you believe the puppy has had enough of playtime.
Heath issues and cleanliness:
Children are more vulnerable than grown-ups to the illnesses that pets can carry. Here are some helpful tips to avoid risks to your child’s health.
- Make sure the puppy sees a vet regularly.
- Make sure your child washes his or her hands thoroughly both before and after playtime.
- Do not allow playtime around or near the areas where the puppy or dog relieves himself.
- Any and all excrement should be picked up from the lawn and surrounding areas frequently and properly disposed of.