A Guide to Introducing a New Puppy to Your Kids

So you’ve brought home a new puppy. Or maybe you’re reading this the day before you pick up your new bundle of silky-soft fur and puppy breath. Perhaps you’re more prepared than the rest of us and are reading this before you’ve even made a decision to get a new puppy.

No matter where you are on your journey, congratulations! Bringing a new puppy home is exciting for the whole family.

It can also be a little nerve-wracking. What if your puppy finds your kids overwhelming? Or vice versa? How can you prepare everyone for this joyful yet slightly stressful change in your lives?

We’ve got you covered.

Four Tips for Bringing a New Puppy Home With Kids

The more prepared you are to bring your new puppy home, the better. Try to work through these four tips in order if you can.

But they’ll be helpful even if you’re reading this while your new puppy is howling. And your baby is crying. And your toddler is shrieking. And you feel completely overwhelmed by the chaos.

Just take a moment to breathe and start at Step 1, even if it feels like everything’s a disaster. There’s always room for a do-over!

1. Set up a Calm Space for the Puppy

When your puppy steps through your door for the first time, she’ll probably be exhausted. She might feel anxious, excited, hungry, and thirsty. Treat your little dog like a toddler who needs some quiet time before diving into the next activity.

Set up a cozy space where your dog can enjoy some R&R in peace. It’s also a good idea to organize your pet supplies and keep them out of reach of your kids. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Set up a puppy gate inside the main bedroom—a/k/a, the place where you sleep
  • Line the area with newspaper or puppy pads to protect your flooring
  • Put a crate inside the gated area
  • Line the crate with a soft, pee-proof mat
  • Place a bowl each of food and water—plus a treat or two—inside the crate
  • Add a toy like the Snuggle Puppy, which has a “heartbeat” and heating pad inside

Just keep in mind you’ll need to supervise your new dog’s interaction with any toy. She could chew it to shreds and swallow pieces of it – which is most toys.

Plan to spend some time in this quiet space with your new puppy as he adjusts to life in your household.

2. Prep Your Kids for the Puppy

If you haven’t already, it’s time to tell your kids how important it is to treat the new puppy respectfully.

Babies and toddlers might not grasp this concept, but you can explain in simple terms that puppies need gentle pets. Get your littlest ones to practice “nice petting” on a stuffed animal.

Make it clear that pulling the puppy’s ears and tail is not ok. A baby or toddler will probably still try to do both of these things, so make sure you alwayssupervise your young kids when they are around your dog.

If you see a child getting ready to yank a tail, gently prevent her from doing it and say something like, No, that hurts puppy. Ouch!

Eventually, she’ll get the idea.

Older kids may need a quick rundown of these rules, too. But you can also talk to them about things like:

  • Playtime: Tell your kids where they can romp around with the puppy. Probably not the kitchen, but maybe the living room and definitely the yard.
  • Chores: Decide who wants to take on which puppy chores. From scooping poop to feeding to making sure the pup gets exercise, there are plenty of tasks to go around.
  • Safety: Emphasize that the puppy should be handled gently and should not be given human food or liquids.
  • Training: Even the smaller kids can get in on the training fun. Brush up on puppy training basics, like positive reinforcement and redirection. Teach your kids how to help your puppy practice basic commands.

Now you’re ready to bring your puppy home.

Related: 5 of the Most Kid-Friendly Dog Breeds

3. Introduce Your Puppy to the House Before Your Kids Get Home

Yes, it’s tempting to introduce your kids to Fido right away. And if your kids are old enough to understand that the puppy needs some peace and quiet before a romp in the family room, go for it!

If not, though, see if you can bring your puppy home while your kids are out of the house.

This gives your new dog time to explore her new home without any loud noises or sticky hands around. Let her sniff some clothing and toys that smell like your kids.

Then, bring her to her cozy spot in your room. Sit inside the gated area with her and let her explore her safe space. See if you can get her to settle down for a nap, either in your lap or in her crate.

When she wakes up, make sure she has a chance to eat, drink water, and go potty outside before the kids come home.

That way, she’ll be as ready as can be for the exciting introduction!

4. Let Your New Puppy and Your Kids Meet

The big moment has arrived, and it’s sure to be one of the most thrilling events of your child’s life. Your puppy’s, too, if you can keep the situation from getting too overwhelming.

We suggest doing something like this:

  • Step 1: Have your kids sit down on the floor in the living room or family room. You may need to ask another adult or older child to hold the youngest, wiggliest kids in the family.
  • Step 2: Bring the puppy into the room and hold him while your kids squeal in delight, because they will squeal with delight, and who can blame them?!
  • Step 3: When the kids settle down, let your puppy roam around the room, taking in the sight, sound, and smell of each child on her own time.
  • Step 4: Encourage your kids to put their hands out in a fist so the puppy can sniff them—without snacking on any tiny, delicious fingers.
  • Step 5: Show your kids how to carefully pet the puppy’s back, neck, and head.

When the puppy—or your kids—start getting overwhelmed, take your puppy to his quiet space in your room. Keep repeating these calm intro sessions until Fido feels comfortable.

It won’t take long, we promise. Before you know it, your puppy and your kids will be best friends forever.


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