Getting a puppy for Christmas is a dream come true for many children, and you’ll never forget the excitement on their faces when they meet their new best friend! Teaching your child to respect, care for, and train your puppy will help them develop a bond that will last for years. Teach your child from the beginning that your puppy can be a wonderful friend, but they need to understand how to treat them. Respecting your puppy’s boundaries in play, treating them kindly in every situation, and caring for their needs are all extremely important lessons for every child.
Tender Loving Care
The first thing you must teach your child is that puppies are not toys! They are alive, they have feelings, and they can be hurt – even accidentally. Immediately teach your child to gently pet your puppy, and don’t allow them to lift or carry the pup until you have taught them how to do it properly. For older children, this lesson will sink in quickly, and they may be very adept at handling your puppy within a short period of time. But for young kids, it is essential that you carefully monitor them with the puppy to keep them both safe.
Break the ice by showing your child several appropriate ways to play with your new puppy! Playing fetch is a great game to begin training your puppy to come when called and is an easy game for both your child and your puppy to enjoy. It’s important that your child learns to be calm when playing with the puppy. If you see your child getting too excited, help them slow down or separate them from the puppy briefly. Similarly, if you see your puppy starting to nip or act nervous, give them a break in a separate area where they can feel safe.
It may seem obvious to you, but it is important to teach your child what not to do as well. They can not pull the puppy’s tail or ears, never poke their eyes or ears, never try to ride their puppy, and never kick or hit the dog. Teach your child to pet with an open hand, or to scratch gently behind the ears or on their back.
Training with Treats
Dog trainers consistently recommend using rewards and praise to reinforce positive behavior when teaching your puppy. Help your child understand that they are the keeper of the treat, and their puppy will learn to love obedience when they realize that obeying means they get that delicious morsel! Always teach your child to wait patiently until the pup has followed the command before giving the treat. Praise them both for a job well done! Enthusiastic praise and a treat are huge motivators for a puppy.
Caring for your puppy is another excellent way to help your child bond with their new friend. Their age and abilities will dictate what they can do to help. Younger children can help care for your dog by filling their food bowl or helping to brush them. An older child may love walking your dog or taking them out into the backyard for a romp. Encourage this adoption of responsibility as it will help strengthen the bond between your child and your puppy. Just remember to protect both your child and puppy by keeping an eye on their interactions, especially while they are both learning.
Enjoy Your Christmas Puppy!
It will take time to properly introduce your new puppy and your children but enjoy the process and look forward to the years ahead! With training, time, and practice, your dog can become the most treasured companion in your child’s life. This year, Christmas will be the beginning of a beautiful journey of friendship and love.