|Puppies dont like this! (Masha at 13 yrs)|
Most of the breeders and shelters I'm familiar with will only adopt puppies out to families with children older than four or five, so I'm going to assume you have children who are old enough to reason. Puppies require a tremendous amount of work and patience; if you are thinking of adopting a puppy and you still have young preschoolers around, I recommend waiting. The first few months with a puppy will remind you why sleep deprivation is such an effective form of torture. Plus, once children are old enough to pour their own bowls of cereal or come find you when the doorbell rings, they can help care for the puppy and understand its behavior.
CAVEAT: The strategies below worked for me, but there is more than one way to raise a puppy alongside children. Talk to your breeder or your shelter. Talk to your vet. Talk to your Puppy Kindergarten teacher. Take the kids to Puppy Kindergarten with you. It's also helpful to have a training book as reference at home. Check the pet store, the book store, and the library. Choose a recent publication but don't necessarily go for the biggest name out there. Personally, I like Brian Kilcommons' books; I find his attitude reasonable and his advice common-sense based. Above all, remember that you've welcomed another species into your home. It's your job as the human adult to stay in control of your temper and emotions and do all of the problem solving.
|First night home. (Maisie at 2 mos)|
It's important to make sure the kids understand that two-month-old Junior is like a toddler; by the time he is twelve months old, he will be like a teenager. You'll have to reiterate that often over the next year. Do your best to give the kids the puppy's approximate human age. "Junior bites everything right now, just like you did when you were one and two. ...Junior thinks all the toys are his right now, just like your 4-year-old cousin always wants to play with whatever you have. ...Junior is teething right now. Remember when your back molars came in? It hurt to chew hard things and you got kinda grumpy sometimes. Please give Junior a fresh teething toy." It helps when kids can put their expectations in perspective.
|On her crate. (Maisie at 3 mos)|
When the kids want to play with Junior, you sit down and play, too. I know: not helpful when you need to make dinner. Still, the best way for kids to learn how to interact with a puppy is to watch you and imitate you. Puppies don't really play with kids any more than toddlers play with other toddlers, though; they also don't like to let go of the ball they just fetched. You'll want to encourage side-by-side play until the puppy is closer to 12 months. "Just sit next to Junior and let him chew his teether/squeaky frog/rope bone while you read your book/watch your show/play video games."
|Playtime! (Maisie at 9 mos)|
|Not bored anymore! (Maisie at 9 mos)|
|"Staying" for more frosting. (Maisie at 10 mos)|
|A Good Dog at the Beagle Bash 2011.|
(Maisie at 1 yr, 10 mos)