Puppies + Toddlers: A Survival Course


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Ah, puppies. Is there anything more adorable? The thrill of bringing a new puppy into your life is big. And it’s just as thrilling for children. When done right, it can also be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The challenge is getting things right from the start.

First Impressions Matter

Leaving their home, mom, and siblings is a huge undertaking for puppies. It’s natural that they will be disoriented. While you may want to share your puppy excitement with everyone you know, hold off. Give your puppy time to settle in and get used to their new surroundings. Spend time with them, don’t isolate them for long periods, and allow them to get plenty of sleep.

Supervise, Supervise, Supervise

Young children can get pretty hysterical about puppies, with lots of hugging, picking them up and grabbing. There’s no bad intent here, but it can be scary for dogs! Canine communication is very different from ours, which is why active supervision is essential to keep everyone safe. Intervene early and model behaviors you want to see. 

Set Everyone Up for Success

It’s impossible to supervise toddlers and puppies 100% of the time. This is why safe zones are so important. Puppies need social contact. Rather than excluding them, consider options that keep them close by, like play pens and baby gates. While you’re busy cooking dinner, your puppy can happily chew on a toy or treat nearby without small humans trying to climb into their bed with them.

Low-Stress Interactions

Puppies shouldn’t just cope with children—they should enjoy them! Children often desperately want to play with puppies but most need guidance. Teaching kids about body language is essential, and a force-free trainer can help you do this. Encourage interactions between your children and the puppy from afar—blowing a kiss, waving, or tossing treats over a barrier all reinforce the idea that not all exchanges have to be up close and personal.

A healthy respect between your children and your puppy will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

Lori Carman VSPDT, Dream Dogs
Lori Wainio-Carman, VSPDT, professional dog trainer and owner of Dream Dogs, has been successfully training for more than 20 years. dreamdogs.com 760-899-7272.


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