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Getting a dog

Your children need to be taught that the puppy is not a toy or doll, and should not be disturbed when resting or sleeping, picked up, cuddled, hugged, kissed, carried around, or dressed up, all of which can make it grumpy and snappy.

Toddlers and young children often unwittingly encourage puppies to chase and play bite them, so you should only let them interact under your supervision. Keep them apart (use a child-gate or playpen) if one or the other is having an exuberant moment, and never leave them alone together.

However, even older children (and some adults!) can be excitable and inconsistent or over-stimulating the puppy one minute, and then telling it off (and often hitting it) the next. Children (and puppies) are not known for their patience, so both need to be taught how to be gentle with each other.

Dog bite injuries are a problem in all societies, but a high majority of these injuries are preventable with the correct education. Most dog biting incidents happen in the home and many people are simply unaware of the simple measures that can be taken to avoid problems. The language used by dogs is subtle and children are prone to misinterpreting it, which can lead to biting incidents.

Teach your children the doggy dos and don'ts

Living with dogs enriches children's lives. Taking care of a dog is an excellent way of teaching a child to take responsibility, express empathy, get some exercise and to have fun. Dogs can also significantly help to raise their self-esteem. But it is the responsibility of adults; especially parents, to make sure that these valuable child/dog relationships are nurtured so that one understands the other.