Kids & Dogs Play Nice

Teach your kids how to play with your new dog.


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For children 8 or older, when the puppy starts biting, Shryock recommends they stand up (if sitting), stay still, and ignore him. The puppy will quickly become bored and look for something else to do. At that point, they can give the dog a toy, which redirects the chewing to an appropriate item.

Children should not push the pup away, scream stop, or run. When kids react this way, dogs think they're playing and will continue to bite.

Jan Wall, a former elementary school teacher and creator of the educational Web site,, says parents can help children develop a better understanding of their pet by simply comparing feelings.

For example, ask your children how they would feel if hit or not given food. They'll probably respond with the words hurt or hungry. Explain to them that the puppy would feel the same way.

If they don't relate those things as being the same as how they feel, the dog is just a toy that they're going to be sick of in six months, says Wall, of San Diego.

Here are a few ground rules to cover with your child:

Treat the puppy nicely. Don't hit, kick, or tease him. No yanking on his tail or pulling at his ears. Dogs will lash out if provoked or hurt.

Speak in a normal tone of voice. Don't yell or scream in the puppys face. His hearing is more sensitive than ours.

Don't hug or kiss the puppy. Humans show affection this way, but in the canine world, its threatening.

If the puppy walks away from you, don't follow. This means he doesn't want to play anymore. (Establish a place in your home where he can rest without the kidsand their friendsdisturbing him. Teach your child to respect the puppys resting place.)

Don't bother the puppy when he's eating or sleeping. These are times when dogs don't like to be pestered.

Only two hands on the puppy at any one time. Its overwhelming when several kids swarm around him. A frightened dog may bite.

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