How to Introduce My Puppy To Kids?

Puppy parents come in all shapes and sizes, it’s true. While most children don’t have the maturity and attention span to care for a puppy and be a puppy parent, they certainly love puppies as much as adults do, and probably even more. That’s why so many kids are given puppies for Christmas, birthdays, and other special days.

When gifting a puppy to a child, one thing to remember is that many have never seen, handled or cared, for a puppy. Indeed, some children are so young when they (or their family) adopt a puppy; they might have no clue how to interact with it, or at least interact without harming it accidentally.

Still, it’s been said that puppies and childhood go together like beer and pretzels, peas and carrots, pork chops and apple sauce, and, well, you get the idea. If you’re planning to gift your child with a puppy, whatever the reason or occasion, you probably have a question that many of my readers ask; how to introduce my puppy to kids?

The answer is that you need to introduce your puppy to kids carefully and also supervise them the entire time they’re playing with their new furry sibling. It’s an introduction that’s exciting, no doubt, and very joyful too. It’s also slightly risky, mainly for the puppy in question, as very young children might accidentally hurt a puppy through their unintentional mishandling.

Depending on the puppy and the child, the need for supervision might be high or low. For example, a large-breed puppy like a Great Dane might be too much for, say, a three-year-old to handle. They would obviously need as much supervision as possible to ensure one doesn’t accidentally hurt the other.

On the other hand, a teenager will likely be able to handle any puppy with care and safety (although taking care of them all the time is a wholly different story). Still, if it’s a teen who’s never had a puppy before, teaching them the proper way to handle a puppy is essential. Like a new mom learning to cradle or change her baby’s diaper, a teen will need to know the best ways to feed, walk, handle and train a puppy.

Knowing all of this, I’m sure you have other questions about introducing a puppy to kids. How to teach kids to play with a pup, for example, and what age should a child be before their parent should get them a puppy. For the answer to these and other puppy-related questions, read on!

Teaching a Child to Play with a Puppy

Here’s the thing, teaching a child how to play with a puppy isn’t exactly rocket science. In fact, most children innately know how to play with puppies and other pets, as the average baby mammal loves to play with other baby mammals. 

In my humble opinion, teaching a child how not to play with a puppy is a better move. Picking them up by their ears, for example, pulling on their tails, carrying them in uncomfortable or risky positions, etc., etc. If your child knows what not to do, everything else will fall into place naturally. Below are a few tips to help you teach your kids the things they shouldn’t do with their new puppy sibling.

Teach Your Kids that a Puppy is Not a Toy

Depending on your child’s (or childrens’) age, when you introduce them to their puppy, they may already know that it’s not a toy like their dolls or trucks. However, younger kids might not yet know the difference. For them, a puppy is something fun to pick up, handle, toss around, etc. 

That, as you might imagine, is not a good position for a defenseless puppy to be in, especially a puppy that’s significantly smaller than your child. Unfortunately, rough play can injure a puppy, sometimes severely, which is why teaching your child the difference between puppies and toys is essential. 

Encourage your Kids to Be Gentle

The difference between gentle and rough for many children is something they still haven’t completely figured out, which can be dangerous for a fragile puppy. Encouraging your kids to be gentle is essential to ensure that they handle their new puppy pal correctly.

Showing kids how to be gentle is easy. For example, you can show them how to gently lift their puppy, pet them softly, and teach your kid that dropping or tossing a puppy is a no-no. Holding your puppy and showing your child what “gentle” looks like is also an easy and very effective method of teaching them how to be gentle too.

Enlighten your Kids about Body Language

This tip takes some time and effort, but it’s well worth it. Little kids typically know a bit about body language from watching their parents and siblings when they’re happy, angry, excited, sad, etc. Showing them that puppies have the same feelings and similar body language will empower your child to interact with them better and reduce the risk that either one gets hurt.

Let Your Kids Be Part of the Training Process

Training a puppy is a process that takes a few weeks and, frequently, months. During this time, you should include your child as often as possible and let them participate in their puppy’s training. (Older kids might even be able to train a puppy on their own.) 

This might be the best method to introduce your puppy to kids, as both will learn from the training process. For example, both your child and puppy will learn patience, albeit from different perspectives. They will both learn persistence, too, and several other valuable life skills. 

Even better, when your child becomes an adult, they will already have experience training a puppy, which will be helpful if they ever decide to adopt one of their own.

How Long Does it Take for a Child to Get Used to a Puppy?

Dog experts will tell you that the time it takes for a child to get used to a puppy can be several days to a couple of weeks. Of course, many variables come into play during this time, such as the age of the child, the surroundings, the amount of time spent together, and several more.  

The best trait you can have as a new puppy parent is patience. Your child and puppy will eventually get used to each other and, in most cases, become fast friends. Some children will take to their puppy like a duck to water, while others might not. Of course, all puppies and children are different, but the process is usually quick and painless.

What Age Should Your Kids Be before You Get a Puppy?

From what I’ve seen and read, the age your child should be when you adopt a puppy is around 5 or 6 years old. They will typically have the maturity level to handle a puppy well at this age, although using the tips I’ve given today will still be necessary.

Of course, if you have the time, patience, and energy, you can adopt a puppy at wherever age your child happens to be at the time. Many families with new babies adopt a puppy, although the stress of caring for both can be significant. Whatever your choice, make sure you’re prepared to handle the extra responsibilities. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have the info you need to answer the question “How to introduce my puppy to kids?” It should be done slowly, with care and supervision, so that both the child and puppy have a positive, life-enhancing experience. (And become BFFs for life!)

I hope today’s blog was helpful and informative. Please see my other blogs on the subject if you want more information about raising a healthy, happy puppy. All of them are packed with tips and advice on becoming a perfect puppy parent!