Pleased to Meet You: Tips for Introducing Kids to Your New Dog

By Lesley White, owner, Peak City Puppy

Introducing a new pet into your family dynamic can seen daunting for adults, but it can be even more stressful if your family has kids. If you are bringing a new dog or cat into a home with children, there are a whole host of things to consider. However, introducing your kids to a puppy or kitten doesn’t have to be a stressful experience! With a little time, effort and these easy tips, your kids and their new best friend will be inseparable in no time.

Start with Your Kids First

Whether you’re getting a new puppy, a cat or just visiting a home with animals for the first time with your children, educating them about what they should and should not do is important. Not only will this help keep kids safe while interacting with Fido and Fluffy, but it will help them enjoy their time together that much more. Before you even begin to introduce your kids to their new pet, explain the following things:

  • Dogs and cats are living things and have feelings just like we do

  • Animals have very sensitive ears and loud noises can be very scary for them

  • Most dogs and cats are smaller than people, especially if they are young. Fast movements like jumping and stomping can frighten them

  • The best way to show a new dog or cat you love them is to pat them gently on their backs with an open hand

Prepare for Meeting Day

Meeting their new best friend is likely one of the most exciting day in your child’s life, and for good reason! However, it is important to prepare for meeting day keeping the needs of the puppy or kitten in mind, too. Whether you are picking up your adopted pet from your local shelter or through a pet rescue organization, you should prepare your kids by involving them in the process. For younger kids, get a stuffed toy for them to practice petting and have your kids show you what a “good pet” is. For older kids, when they start to talk about all the fun things they will do with their new pets, ask them to tell you how they will say hello and how they will play. Then, when meeting day finally arrives:

  • Introduce your kids and pet in a quiet place with minimal stressful distractions. For example, the living room is a great spot for a first hello, but don’t decide to vacuum the carpet at the same time.

  • If your pet is frightened or skittish, don’t force introductions too soon. Instead, let your dog or cat have a break by giving them a secluded spot to calm down. Then, you can slowly try again.

  • Keep playtime between your kids and pet supervised and be sure to look for signs that your pet is getting tired, scared or hungry. If you notice your pet might need a break from the excitement, give them ample opportunity to do so.

Teach Appropriate Play

All dogs, cats and kids love to play—that’s why they make such good friends! However, it is important when introducing kids to pets that they understand what kind of play is appropriate. Make sure to provide fun activities and toys for your pets and children to enjoy together and encourage them to engage in passive play with their pets. Dogs love to fetch balls and chew on toys, but playing chase and tug games can cause accidental nipping. Likewise, cats love to be teased with toys but can get overly excited and accidentally scratch. Supervise your children with their new pets to make sure that playtime doesn’t turn into a time out.

Introducing a pet to your family can be exciting and wonderful time for you and your children with a little preparation. Here at Peak City Puppy, we are experts at keeping your pets healthy and happy and your peace of mind intact. Our Signature Dog Walking Service can give you a hand when your pets are big on energy while you’re low on time.

Learn more about all the ways Peak City Puppy can help you and your pets live your best lives together at www.PeakCityPuppy.com.

Lesley White is the owner of Peak City Puppy, a Triangle-based Dog Walking & New Puppy Potty service now in its tenth year serving clients in Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Raleigh, Morrisville and now New Hill.