Guest article provided by: petterritory.com
Before I ever had kids, I had pets- cats, dogs, reptiles, rodents- and I always knew I wanted my future children to grow up with pets also. We already had a senior dog and senior cat when my daughter was born, but it didn’t take long to decide that getting another pet that she could grow up with would be a good fit for us. A puppy brought a lot of joy to our whole family, but it came with a lot of challenges. If you’re interested in getting a puppy and have young kids in the house, this article will help walk you through some of the steps to take before and after bringing a new furry friend into your home.
Research Dog Breeds that are Good with Children
Though you may choose to adopt a puppy through a shelter or rescue, I strongly recommend doing breed research before you decide what type of dog to get. You might think that a smaller dog would be better for little kids, but many small breeds have less patient dispositions, and are more likely to bite than larger breeds.
There are some amazing dog breed quizzes that ask questions about your current lifestyle in order to match you with a list of potential breeds that will be suitable for everyone in your family. I recommend trying more than one website quiz out and cross-matching the lists.
Here’s some of the things they ask about that are especially pertinent to parents:
- How many kids live in your home, and what ages they are
- How much time do you have to spend on training/exercise
- How much will the dog bark
Talk to the Breeders/Handlers In Advance
I used AKC and Pedigree quizzes and we found Wirehaired Pointing Griffon’s to be the perfect match for our family. There are even adoption websites that are breed specific, if you are not wanting to buy from a reputable breeder. Make sure whoever you are working with is clear that you have kids, and what ages they are.
A reputable breeder will help you choose a puppy from the litter that seems to have a personality that will do well with small children.
Puppy and Dog Training
It’s good to have a plan for everything from teaching “sit” to potty training before you bring your puppy home. Research what type of training will be best for your family ahead of time. Think of ways you can get your kids involved with training no matter how old they are.
Some puppies get extremely mouthy when they are teething. We got our puppy when my daughter was 1.5 years old- and he thought her arms and legs were perfect for gnawing! We found some great puppy teething tips and toys that helped.
Sign Up for Puppy Training Classes
Even if you’ve had dogs or puppies before, training a puppy when you have a baby or toddler in the house can be extra challenging. Find local ethical trainers and get them signed up for classes before they even come home! You won’t regret having that resource.
Crate Training and Dog-Free Spaces
Research crate training and implement it on day one. Crates are an excellent way to provide puppies and dogs with a comfortable space that is all their own that they won’t mess in or get into trouble. It should not be used as punishment, but can help an over-excited dog calm down- as well as help give a puppy some safe space from an over-excited toddler.
It’s also a good idea to consider some dog-free zones in the house if that is possible. We purchased a super wide baby gate to create a play area for our daughter that has doubled as a great space for her to be where our dogs can’t get her toys or in her face when she wants some alone time.
Prepare Your Kids for Puppy Energy
While it can be fun to surprise kids with a puppy, or if you have a child too young to understand, it’s best if you can help prepare them for sharing space with a four-legged ball of energy! Even if you find a breed that will be calmer- all puppies can have prolonged periods of high-spirited activity.
Our Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is extremely patient with our now 3-year-old daughter, but that doesn’t mean we let her do whatever she wants to. Teaching your kids to respect animal’s space is crucial to avoid accidents between kids and their pups. It’s also important for kids to learn that just because their own puppy or dog is patient and likes them, doesn’t mean that any dog will! Safe boundaries with dogs in public is super important.
It’s also important that until either the dog is trained, or your kids are old enough, you should not leave a new puppy or dog unattended with your kiddos. This can cause unnecessary accidents!
Expect Accidents (and Chewed Up Toys!)
Even if you had the “perfect” system in place to bring a puppy into your home with young children, you need to expect that puppy to still be- well, a puppy.
Puppies bite, and chew, and get into things they shouldn’t!
Puppies pee on rugs, steal snacks, and bark in the middle of the night!
Puppies jump, accidentally knock toddlers over, and will probably drive you nuts sometimes.
But remember, with the right training and patience, those phases will pass.
Teach your kids not to leave their favorite toys or shoes where they might get taken. To prevent accidents in the early days, a pro-tip is to keep your puppy leashed to you when they are in the house and you need to get things done. Use a portion of their dinner to motivate them to stay with you. This can also give you a jump-start on leash training for walks. It teaches your puppy that with you is the right and best place to be. But be prepared, they might grow up and still want to be right with you all the time!