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Dogs are like family. We snuggle with them, share laughter and pain with them, turn to them in hard times, and get endless amounts of love and affection from them. So it’s only natural to let your kids play with your small dogs, and if the dog is used to children, that is just fine.

That said, you should still be careful. You never know what might make a dog nervous and feel like they have to protect themselves. Also, some dogs aren’t used to kids, and if you’re bringing one into your home, you should take precautions. 

black and white dog lying on grass

Not only can a dog bite out of fear or anger, but it can also knock children over or scratch them with their claws. This might be an accident, but it’s still a risk, even with small dogs.

The key is training your dog, yourself, and your family to practice safe habits around the pooch. Here are some tips for safe play between your children and your small dog. 

Get Your Small Dog to Socialize With Your Children

If you are bringing a new dog into your house, you can’t just leave it in a room with children to play. They will eventually bond with your kids, but you don’t want them to get hurt in the meantime.

As a puppy, your dog needs to experience new things to get used to them and learn not to be scared. When it first comes home, bring your dog and your kid together, but in a calm, supervised setting.

There should be no loud noises or sudden movements. Let the dog sniff the kids and get used to them. After they see there is no threat, your kids can do some fetch or use a toy. Roughhousing should be saved until the dog is fully confident with them. 

Teach Your Children Proper Dog Manners

As your puppy is developing, make sure that you teach your children proper safe behaviours around small dogs.

First, you should always supervise their interactions during the first few weeks of your dog’s home. Then, your children should understand what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to behaviour around the pooch.

Your children, especially toddlers, are naturally curious, and they will want to grab onto certain parts of your dog, such as its tail or ears. A small dog is a target for toddlers to sit on as well.

You never know what might set off a new dog, so make it clear that these behaviours are inappropriate and unsafe. The dog might get hurt, and your children might get hurt. 

Since you are supervising, you can take the opportunity to model good behaviour. You will be gentle and careful around it. If your dog is in its crate, then you should leave it alone.

Never approach a dog that isn’t fully comfortable with you while it is eating. You don’t want your dog to think your kids are taking their food or competing for space. 

Positive Reinforcement

You should immediately start rewarding the positive behaviour of your new puppy. Use a command every time that indicates positive behaviour, such as “calm,” or “gentle.” And provide the dog with a treat.

This will allow them to associate calmness with getting a reward. You can use other methods for reward, such as playing with a toy or extra attention.

That will then reinforce to them that positive behaviour leads to good things. If you already have a dog and are starting a family, it’s even easier to get them to interact safely with your children if they understand the connection. 

Your dog might be small but can still knock over a toddler. Teach your dog not to jump up on your child. Work with them and provide a reward whenever they jump up and are back on the ground.

Add a command, such as “down.” Over time they will learn not to jump and get that treat immediately. 

Choose the right breed

Small dogs can make fantastic companions for youngsters, bringing joy and fun into their lives. One such breed is the Havapoo, a cross between a Havanese and a Poodle.

Havapoos are known for their affectionate nature and gentle demeanour, making them excellent choices for families with children.

If you choose this breed remember that they are very rare, which means that if you find Havapoo puppies for sale, don’t wait around to get them.

Another small dog breed that is great with kids is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. These charming dogs are friendly, patient, and eager to please, making them ideal playmates for children.

Their small size and adaptable nature make them well-suited for family life, and their sweet temperament ensures harmonious interactions with little ones. 

Act Childish

A lot of dogs will bond or be more comfortable with adults before they are with children. It could be a matter of exposure, and also, children have a different energy than adults that a dog might find uncomfortable.

So if your dog is used to you, then try acting like a child at times around it. Scream and yell, run through the house, and make exaggerated movements.

Your dog will see you acting in that way without being threatening, so they will associate that childlike behaviour with someone they trust. 

The last thing you want is you, your children, and your dog moving around the house, being scared. Always remember that your small dog is surrounded by humans that it doesn’t understand and is trying to find its way into your home.

Also, children can be a major disruption, so they might react negatively to them. Follow these tips to make an easier transition for your dog to play, interact, and build a bond with your children. 

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