7 Things You Must Teach Your Kids When Bringing Home A New GSP Puppy
So you've caved to the adorable cute mugs that is a GSP puppy?? I don't blame you one bit. I was never a dog person. I didn't grow up with them or around them. But when my husband stated one day that he wanted one, I did my research.
Side note: don't ever google "German Shorthair Puppies" if you don't want one. Take my word for it. That's how I ended up with 2 and struggle to resist getting more!
At any rate, training a dog is inevitable, but did you know that you also have to train your children? This step is almost even more important. Young children need to learn how to act around a puppy if you want the transition to be a smooth one. I compiled a few tips I learned along the way when our first GSP, Bentley, arrived in November 2014.
So... the question remains... What do I need to teach my kids after I bring home a GSP puppy? Here are 7 things that are great to start with when young children are learning how to interact with their new friend.
#1 STAY OUT OF THE DOGS FACE :: It is important that they avoid putting their face nose to nose with the dogs. Personal space is important to maintain with a dog in order to avoid an instinctual bite.
#2 KEEP OUT OF THE DOGS BED :: It can be so tempting as a small child, especially when the bed is so big, and the puppy is so tiny, to crawl into their bed with them and cuddle. Our daughter loved to climb in with her books and read Bentley a story. But just like mentioned above, dogs like personal space and need a place that is their own. Their bed should be a place they can retreat to when over stimulated or tired. It is a place they can count on as theirs where they won't be bothered.
#3 USE NICE TOUCHES :: Some kids can be a bit aggressive and may not know their own strength. In order to avoid aggressive dog behavior in return, kids will need to learn how to properly touch a dog, avoid pulling tails, squeezing too hard or hitting a dog. In our house we used the term "nice touches". We taught our youngest to use soft, slow and gentle petting motions in the direction that the dog hair grows. And anytime she would be too rough, we would remind her by saying "nice touches, use nice touches when petting the doggy".
#4 STAY CALM :: Dogs get excited if you are excited. This is actually one of my favorite things about a dog! But for children, it can lead to getting hurt. If a child is jumping up and down, running in circles and screaming at a high volume, the dog will match that excitement, start jumping around, running in circles, etc. This could lead to wild indoor behavior that you are trying to avoid and/or a child getting knocked over and stepped on. Teach your child to stay calm when in the dog's presence.
#5 KEEP HANDS DOWN BY YOUR SIDE :: This one can be hard for anyone, but especially children. When a dog comes near them, their instinct is to put their hands up in the air to keep the dog from nipping their fingers or getting anything that is in their hand. But what this actually does it cause the dog to jump up in the air towards their hands, ultimately knocking the child over and the child getting stepped on, scratched by their nails, etc. Train your child to keep their arms and hands glued to their sides when the dog comes near. This works for any age dog and any age person that is nervous around dogs. Like I said, it can be hard, because our instincts tell us to get our limbs out of harms way. But we want to keep them down to help keep the dogs calm.
#6 DON'T WALK AROUND WITH SNACKS IN HAND :: That's a good way to lose your snacks and feed the dog something it shouldn't have or could be potentially dangerous. Puppies have great sniffers, and will sniff those snacks right out of that child's hands so quickly, leaving them in tears and the pup possibly in danger (depending on what the snack was). Sit at the table or send them to a room where the door can be closed (depending on age of the child) to safely eat their snack.
#7 LEAVE THEIR EARS ALONE :: If you've never touched a GSP ear, then do it once to experience the velvety goodness. It's another form of heaven that is so unique to this breed. But a GSPs ears are sensitive (any dog's ears really). Our daughter is 10 years old (almost 11) and still struggles with this. Their ears are like a security blanket to her. She rubs them, folds them in her hand, runs them between her fingers. I still struggle to get her to stop - it is so comforting to her. And for the most part the dogs have a calm demeanor and let her do this. But every now and then they shake their head or let out a small faint growl indicating they are not interested and she needs to keep her hands off. It is best to simply pet their ears like you would any other part of their body, but read your dog's cues (growls, head shaking, etc) and stop if you notice any form of irritated behavior.
With all that said - GSPs are incredible family dogs. I can't stress that enough. But that can only happen if you train the dog AND the humans to cohabitate in a respectful manner. It is so worth it for all the puppy love and fun that is to come!
Head over to my YouTube channel to see a video version of this blog and many others to help you enjoy your new furry friends!