If you want to stop your toddler winding up a new puppy, firstly set up some rules about the puppy…
- Be gentle and kind when stroking the puppy.
- Keep hands away from the puppies’ eyes, ears and tail.
- When approaching the puppy stay calm and quiet and let it smell your open hand.
- Leave the puppy alone when sleeping or eating.
- The puppy stays on the ground.
- Mummy or Daddy have to be nearby if you’re playing with the puppy.
- Give puppy treats on an open hand, down low.
- And wash your hands after playing with the puppy.
Secondly, help your toddler understand the rules by asking questions.
So frequently, ask your toddler:
- How should you stroke the puppy? (That’s right, long, gentle strokes.)
- What else does the puppy like? (Yes, scratching between the ears.)
- How can you tell if the puppy is happy? (Yes, it wags its tail.)
- When the puppy is overexcited is it more likely to bite -or less likely? (That’s right, more likely.)
- And what makes the puppy overexcited? (Yes, lots of noise and too much play.)
- If the puppy chases you what should you do? (That’s right – standstill, cross your arms and look at the ground.)
- And if it nips you? – (Yes you yelp and walk away. Show me how you’d yelp –good!)
- What’s the best way to play with the puppy? (Good yes, stroking, throwing the ball, or teaching it tricks.)
- If the puppy growls, what does that mean? (Yes, it’s very stressed.)
- If the puppy does growl what do you need to do? (Good idea- yes. Leave it alone. Straight away!)
If your toddler can’t answer your question, give them the answer. Then ask the question again.
Finally, praise your toddler for being good with the puppy, and separate them if they’re not.
Say to your toddler:
- “You left the puppy alone when it was sleeping – well done!”
- “You’re stoking the puppy with long, gentle strokes. The puppy likes that”
- “The puppy nipped you and you yelped and walked away –well remembered! That’s really helping the puppy to learn”
However, if the puppy barks or nips, or your toddler’s too rough – then separate them.
- Say: “The puppy’s barking, that means it’s too excited. It needs to calm down now.”
- Or “Oh dear, you forgot what to do with the puppy. You need to play in another room now, and later you can try again.”
Gradually your toddler will learn.
So the three tips to stop your toddler winding up the puppy are:
- Set up some rules about the puppy
- Help your toddler understand the rules by asking questions.
- Praise your toddler for being good with the puppy, and separate them if they’re not.
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