Thursday, May 8, 2008

Puppy and the Kids

Kids are thrilled when the new puppy comes home. They want to love on him and play with him all the time. But, before you let the kids have at the unsuspecting puppy, set some ground rules to protect them both.

If your kids were the catalyst for the puppy, you should know one thing. You will be the one taking care of the puppy most of the time. It is sad, but true. Indulging their need for another living thing means another dependent for you.

To keep the kids involved, give them tasks to do concerning puppy’s care. Just like puppy needs a schedule, so do the kids. Start a whiteboard of duties. Show the kids how to do each task on the list. Let them watch and then let them do. If your children have school during the day, give them the job of feeding puppy in the morning and in the evening.

All dogs need exercise. So do kids. Put the two together. The kids can help you pick out a leash for the new puppy. Then, take them around the neighborhood for a walk. Choose a safe route for your kids to follow during their walk.

The kids can take the puppy for bathroom breaks also. Teach them the same route that you are teaching to the puppy. They must use the same commands when he does his business. This helps the kids to recognize when puppy fidgets because he has to go to the bathroom.

Finally, kids want to play with puppy. In some respects, puppy is like a life-sized stuffed animal to them. The only difference is that this stuffed animal can bite. Kids have to learn to respect puppy. This respect includes not playing roughly with him, disturbing his sleep, or poking him. Practicing their death grip on puppy is a bad move. Animals see certain behaviors as aggressive possibly causing puppy to bite them and it won’t be a playful nip.

Show your kids the correct way to touch puppy. His fur should be stroked and his head patted. Looking puppy in the eye is a sign of challenge. Encourage the kids not to try this.

Kids should also avoid the areas that are designated as “puppy’s areas”. They can put out food for puppy or take him to the bathroom, but these places are no place to play. Just like puppy sleeps in his bed in a certain place, he needs places that are safe zones for him to play with the kids.

Puppies love kids and they love him. The key to a lasting relationship is mutual respect for each other. Once this is established, puppy and the kids will have a loving and playful relationship they’ll both cherish and remember for years to come.

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