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Introducing Your Puppy to Your Child

Keep interactions positive.

No doubt everyone will be very excited when the new puppy arrives so let’s set everyone up for success!

Combining the fact that children and puppies are easily excited, it is important to set some ground rules to ensure the first introduction goes well. In addition, keep in mind that between 8 and 10 weeks puppies go through a fearful period. The following guidelines will set you up for success.

Here is a great way to start:

Have your child sit quietly on the floor and allow the puppy to make the first approach – not the other way around. Enabling your puppy to meet your child on its terms is a great way to form a strong bond of trust between the two from the beginning.

This can be very hard for children to understand. They can get excited when they see a dog and want to rush up and start petting or handling it. Puppies can get overwhelmed in their new environment and for the first time when meeting new people.

If the puppy decides to walk away, do not allow your child to pursue the puppy.

If the puppy doesn’t initially go to your child have her gently clap her hands and softly call the puppy’s name. Usually, this will encourage the puppy to approach.  As soon as the puppy reaches your child have her give one tiny piece of kibble and say “Good dog”. This not only conditions the dog for recall but also conditions the child the proper way to call a dog.  

Teach your child that the puppy needs “zones of space”. You can also refer to these as “no-go” spaces. This is important to establish boundaries for the puppy. A “no-go” space would be the puppy’s crate.  Zones of space would be when the puppy is sleeping or eating.

Since children do not know the proper way to pick up a puppy, have a rule that they can hold the puppy if they are sitting. Although we hug to show affection in our human world, this is not something that dogs do naturally. Depending on your dog’s personality, over time they may tolerate this from some people. More likely they will prefer to communicate by sitting side to side not face to face. Discourage face-to-face staring.  This can be very intimidating to a puppy or they can view it as a challenge and decide to nip your child’s face. 

Nurturing a Bond That Lasts

Have your child help you take care of the puppy. Even the youngest of children can help put food in the dog bowl and place it on the floor. You can also ask them to help you keep an eye on the water bowl to be sure it is always fresh and clean.

Games to Play and Not to Play

Keep plenty of toys handy to go through the teething period. You can also start games of fetch and Hide Seek. To learn introduce and play, visit my post on “Games and Activites”

Teaching simple commands such as “right here” or “come” will give the child and puppy a way to focus their attention.

Simple tricks will keep everyone happy besides continuing to build a stronger bond. I like to use the Puppr app which has plenty of free tricks and commands to start.

Games such as chasing and wrestling should be discouraged. It will only encourage jumping up or grabbing onto the child with those nippy teeth.


Go slow and remember everything is brand new to your puppy so practice kindness and patience.

Mostly, enjoy the new addition to your family!

Puppy Biting Blues: Simple Tricks to Stop the Nips

Understanding Puppy Biting

Puppies explore and make sense of the world with their mouths. Nipping and mouthy play come naturally to them, especially as they begin teething around 12-16 weeks old. Those sharp little razor teeth erupting can lead to increased nipping behavior. Mouthing and play biting on human hands or skin can certainly be painful and unpleasant, but it’s crucial not to confuse this with aggression in puppies.

Biting during play enables pups to practice inhibiting the force of their bites, known as “bite inhibition”. By yelping or withdrawing contact when littermates bite too hard, they learn to moderate their jaws. This also establishes boundaries for appropriate play.

While painful puppy bites aren’t fun for owners, reactive punishment can make behaviors worse. Puppies may interpret yelling or physical disciplining as rewarding attention or have a the negative effect of making them fearful. Instead, stay calm, and interrupt the nip with a calm verbal cue like, “eh, eh” or “No”. When the puppy stops for a moment to process the interruption, that is the time to redirect to appropriate chew toys or another activity. This reinforces good manners. Be sure to always follow up with praise! If the puppy continues to nip, make it clear that biting leads to withdrawal of attention or play.

Understanding the innate tendencies of certain breeds equips owners to tailor training approaches. For example, herders benefit from impulse control games while retrievers redirect well to chew toys. While basic bite inhibition remains essential, true aggression is exceptionally rare in puppies.

Redirecting Your Landshark

Puppies explore objects like furniture, shoes, or hands with their mouths. Having appropriate alternatives handy is key for redirection. Consider this “puppy proofing” chew toy arsenal:

  1. Kong Toys – These ultra-durable rubber toys provide mental and physical stimulation. You can stuff treats or spreads inside adding an engaging challenge. The erratic bouncing keeps high energy focus.
  2. Rope Toys – Flossing rope textures soothe swollen gums during teething. Tugging games allow healthy biting and wrestling outlets while interacting with owners.
  3. Soft Squeaky Toys – These capture excitement by mimicking the sounds of prey. Just monitor shredded pieces as choking hazards if they are aggressive chewers.
  4. Textured Rubber Bones – Tough textured surfaces massage irritated mouths. It can be stuffed with spreads or frozen for numbness relief. Durable for more aggressive puppy biters.
  5. Frozen Washcloths – Perfect for short-term cooling, the cold temperature and texture ease teething pain. It is best for moderate chewers under supervision to avoid consuming fabrics.

When those sharp teeth target your fingers or pant legs stop all movement, interrupt with a calm verbal cue, and swiftly substitute an approved chewy. The goal is to communicate what items are rewarding “chew toys” versus “hands-off” zones early and often through interruption and redirection.

Other Proactive Solutions for Biting

While having suitable chew replacements on hand is central to curb biting, other techniques can mitigate and discourage nippy behavior.

Enforced nap times are critical for over-tired pups prone to cranky, hyperbites. If your puppy gets relentless even after attempts to redirect, placing them in their crate or an exercise pen forces them to settle down. Once calmness returns allow them to join the rest of the family. Avoid using the crate as a punishment. Short rest periods followed by releasing once calm should keep the crate a positive resting space. Establishing a consistent schedule with enough sleep prevents overtired meltdowns.

You also want to avoid rough, riled-up styles of play, such as wrestling, that will bring out chompy behaviors. Instead, focus engagements on teaching impulse control through gentle handling exercises. Reward patience and gentleness heavily. Additionally, always end interactions BEFORE frustration or biting sets in. Quit while you’re ahead for positive associations.

Responding to Puppy Bites

Even if you diligently redirect biting and enforce good habits, those needle-sharp teeth may still find an unintended target. It’s critical to react appropriately in the moment to reinforce that mouthing flesh is unacceptable.

For less intense nips, immediately yelp “ouch!” in a high-pitched voice like a wounded litter-mate. This signals pain communicating to withdraw. Turn away or stand up ending fun and attention. This technique is recommended for children. Some pups pick up on yelping quickly. However, others can get more amped up by noise so assess your individual pet’s wiring.

If yelping fails or biting escalates, calmly get up and remove yourself behind a secure gate or use your crate. Continuing play risks rewarding pups for biting harder out of prey drive. Come back once your pup has relaxed and offer an approved toy instead if they remain calm when you return. Time-outs reinforce that humans are no fun if biting persists.


Puppy biting and nipping stems from normal developmental phases of teething, curiosity and play. By understanding causes behind mouthy pup behaviors, owners can avoid frustration and mitigate bites through redirection strategies. Stocking up on approved chew toys, enforcing nap times, avoiding rile-up play and appropriately responding provides a game plan. Remember, this too shall pass! Soon those sharp puppy daggers give way to gentler adult mouths. Stay diligent, using positive reinforcement and your landshark transitions seamlessly from nippy rascal to model canine citizen.

However, if mouthing or harder bites still persist beyond six months of age, consulting an experienced professional trainer or certified behaviorist is prudent. They can perform a full evaluation and help you better understand any potential fear, dominance, or situational factors contributing to ongoing inappropriate biting. With a personalized training plan, most puppies overcome the nip. But seeking in-person, tailored guidance remains wise if problems indeed outlast those sharky puppy teeth!

Tips for Successfully Taking Your Dog to Work

Taking your dog to work can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. However, it also requires some preparation and planning to ensure a smooth and successful office visit. Here are some tips to help you and your dog have a great experience:

Does Your Dog Have What It Takes to Be a Therapy Dog?

Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs are amazing animals that volunteer with their human handlers in various settings, such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes, airports, and more. They provide comfort, support, and joy to people who need it the most. But not every dog is cut out for this important job. Therapy dogs need to have certain traits and characteristics that make them suitable for working with different kinds of people in different kinds of situations.

So how do you know if your dog has the potential to be a therapy dog? Here are some of the main traits and characteristics that you should look for in your furry friend:

 **Calm demeanor**: Therapy dogs must be calm and relaxed in any environment. They cannot be easily startled, stressed, or agitated by loud noises, unfamiliar people, or other stimuli. They must be able to handle being touched, hugged, or petted by strangers without getting nervous or excited.

 **Patience**: Therapy dogs must be patient and tolerant of people’s behaviors and emotions. They must be able to cope with being ignored, interrupted, or rejected by some people, while being attentive and responsive to others. They must also be able to wait calmly for their turn or their cue from their handler.

 **Confidence**: Therapy dogs must be confident and self-assured in their abilities and skills. They must not show signs of fear, anxiety, or insecurity when faced with new challenges or situations. They must trust their handler and follow their commands without hesitation or doubt.

 **Love of human contact**: Therapy dogs must love and enjoy interacting with people of all ages, backgrounds, and personalities. They must be friendly, outgoing, and sociable, without being overly enthusiastic or intrusive. They must be able to adapt to different people’s preferences and needs, such as giving kisses, lying on laps, or sitting quietly by their side.

  **Adaptable**: Therapy dogs must be adaptable and flexible to changing circumstances and expectations. They must be able to adjust to different schedules, locations, routines, and tasks. They must also be able to cope with different weather conditions, transportation modes, and equipment.

If your dog has these traits and characteristics, they might be a good candidate for becoming a therapy dog. However, having these traits is not enough. Your dog also needs to have proper training, certification, and registration from a reputable organization that evaluates and registers therapy dogs. You can find more information about the requirements and process of becoming a therapy dog team on websites.  This first site is for a local place in Santa Rosa, California


http://Therapy Dogs International](https://www.tdi-dog.org/)

http://or [Pet Partners](https://petpartners.org/).

How to Create a Good and Safe Relationship Between Your Dog and Your Toddler

Dogs and children can be great friends, but they need some guidance and supervision to get along well. Dogs may not understand children’s behavior, and children may not know how to respect dogs’ boundaries. Here are some tips on how to create a loving and safe relationship between your dog and your toddler.

1. Never leave your toddler and dog unsupervised.  Even if your dog is friendly and well-trained, accidents can happen. Always keep an eye on them and intervene if you see signs of stress or discomfort from either party.

2. Invest in baby gates. This will give both your toddler and dog the freedom to roam and have their own separate spaces for playing and napping. You can also use baby gates to block off areas that are off-limits to your dog, such as the nursery or the kitchen.

3. Provide an example of calm interaction with the dog.  As a dog parent, you need to make sure that you are petting and interacting with your dog regularly. This will show your toddler how to treat the dog with kindness and respect. You can also teach your toddler some basic commands, such as “sit” or “stay”, and reward the dog with treats when he obeys.

4. Teach your toddler to respect the dog’s body, safe zones, and belongings.  Explain to your toddler that dogs don’t like to be hugged, kissed, pulled, or poked. Show your toddler how to gently stroke the dog’s back or chest, and avoid touching his face, ears, tail, or paws. Also, teach your toddler not to bother the dog when he is eating, sleeping, or resting in his crate or bed. Finally, teach your toddler not to take away the dog’s toys, bones or food, and provide him with his own toys instead.

5. Demonstrate correct behavior. If your toddler does something that annoys or scares the dog, correct him immediately and calmly. For example, if your toddler grabs the dog’s fur, say “No, that hurts the dog. Let go gently.” Then show him how to pet the dog softly. If your toddler chases the dog, say “No, that scares the dog. Stop running.” Then show him how to walk slowly and quietly around the dog.

6. Praise and reward positive interactions. When your toddler and dog are playing nicely together, give them lots of praise, treats and attention. Your dog will learn that good things happen whenever kids are around, and your toddler will learn that being gentle and respectful with the dog is fun and rewarding.

By following these tips, you can help your dog and your toddler develop a strong bond that will last a lifetime.

Body Language of Fear in Dogs

Dog Body Language of Fear Poster

Many bites could be avoided if owners recognized the subtle signs of dogs feeling stressed, anxious, or fearful.  If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these signs remove them, if possible, from the situation to avoid your dog escalating to a dog bite. Share this poster with your child and learn together how to identify these important body language signals!

Thank you to Cattle Dog Publishing for creating the useful poster!

Dog Body Language When Things Are Going Well!

How to identify dog body language is a very important skill to develop.  To be an advocate for both your child and your dog and  to be sure there isn’t miscommunication, learn how to identify both signals when dogs are happy and enjoying interaction as well as when you need to step in to intervene.

This post will shows body language when things are going well.  See our other post for body language to indicate stress and a potential dog bite.
Relaxed loose body language – Overall the dog seems to be enjoying interacting with children and looks relaxed and happy.   If lying down, he may have his head over his paw or paws crossed.  The whole body may be wiggling with the tail. He may also be sitting in a relaxed manner with a happy expression on his face.
Mouth may be open and you can see their tongue and it can look like they are smiling, (not hanging way out as though they are hot, tired or stressed)
Eyes look soft, happy, relaxed
Eyes look peaceful or squinty 
Ears are relaxed - not tightly pinned down or very erect and rigid. They may be turned to the side, lowered but relaxed.
Tail may be wagging softly – Also look at the base of the tail. It most likely will be level with the back or hanging in a relaxed way, but if it is wagging it will be wagging loosely and in a relaxed manner. A note about wagging -as I’ve mentioned in my “Stop, Look and Paws” learning activity – a wagging tail itself is not always a sign that a dog is happy. It can mean they are excited and want to interact, but the interaction may not always be positive.  You need to look at the whole body for overall relaxed body language

Red Light, Green Light Game for Dogs and Kids!

Dogs are strongly influenced by the emotion or activity level in a room. Generally, most children have a higher level of energy than adults when it comes to daily life and often the result of this high-level activity can be a child running from room to room or place to place.

This high level of movement is very attractive for dogs, especially young dogs! It will be no surprise to you that for a dog, chasing things that moving is a natural instinct.

In my experience it is almost impossible to get children not to move quickly or run from room to room or place to place. However, we can teach them to be aware of the dogs approach and give them an alternative behavior to avoid the final interaction of jumping from the dog.

The game is quite simple and won’t take very long to learn the rules and play a couple of practice rounds. Before you know it, your child will be automatically doing this as they go from room to room.

Prior to starting the game your child will need to learn their “Red light” part.

Start by practicing 3 things that will be a part of “Red Light”:

1.  Stop feet from moving.  Standing with feet together will work the best.
2.  Fold arms across  chest with hands tucked.
3.  Turn  head and gaze away from the dog.

When starting this game it may seem a little counterintuitive as we are going to actually engage the dog to chase by having the child start running and moving. The only way to practice stopping the dog’s jumping and nipping behavior and empowering your child is to set the dog up to do the behavior that we want to control.

To start the “Green Light” part of the game:

The child can do any movements with their arms. They can jump up and down as they move – anything that seems to get the dog’s attention to move towards the child.

The only exception, and a very important rule, DO NOT call the dog’s name, because you always want the dog to come when called and when they reach you it should always be a positive result not ignoring them as in this game. 

“Red Light “ part of the game:

The child has to watch the dog or be aware of the dog’s approach and as soon as they see their dog getting close, a foot or so away, the child needs to immediately stop moving feet, tuck arms and look away.

The goal is for the child to stop before the dog makes any physical contact!! I can’t stress this part enough.

The child can start moving again once the dog starts to move away which can happen within a few seconds. Then they can start the “green light” part again!

95% of the time this works! Parents are usually amazed and children tend to think this is some type of magic!  So what about the 5%?  Occasionally, even if the child does everything correctly, the dog may still jump on the child.

In this particular case the adult needs to be the “referee”.

Initially when you first play, you need to supervise and if you find that your dog still jumps, even though your child does everything correctly, you will play referee.  As referee you will use something that makes an abrupt sound to interrupt the jumping behavior and momentarily startle the dog out of what they are doing to give you an opportunity to redirect the dog. There are multiple things that make abrupt sounds, penny cans,

Penny Can

Doggie Don’t, small bullhorn, heck, you could even use a wooden spoon on the bottom of a pot!

The best way to use a tool that makes a sound is to link it to your voice with a verbal correction.  Even shouting the word “Hey!” or “eh, eh!” will do the trick.

That said, it is much more common for the dog to continue jumping because the child did not stop their movement in advance of the dog reaching them.

One final word.  Since this is a variation on “Red Light, Green Light”  children may expect the words to be verbally called out.  You or they can actually do this as well, but it is not necessary to play the game, however, it may still be fun to do!

Dog Safety Presentations in Our Community

dog safety in petaluma schools

Since the 2019/20 school year, North Bay Animal Services and Kids-n-K9s have worked together to bring dog safety presentations and dog body language education into our community by way of  local schools.  Although Kids-n-K9s has been visiting schools the since 2017, it wasn’t until our local animal shelter helped to kick it into high gear by providing free of charge, the Stop, Look & Paws sets to each child.  Kids-n-K9s continues with the complimentary presentation to each kindergarten or first grade class with an in-person visit or through Zoom to make a personal connection to each child.

Here are just a few “Thank You” comments from teachers and students!

“With great appreciation to North Bay Animal Services we thank you for your donation. Mrs. Zoromski (Kids-n-K9s)came to teach us and we learned from her, thanks to you, what we should and should not do! We are wiser and smarter. Thank you, from the children in the kindergarten classes at Meadow Elementary.”

“Thank you North Bay Animal Services for donating our dog safety activities (Stop, Look & Paws). We learned how to be safe around dogs. We got to teach our family by using the cool sticker activity. We can use it over and over again like a cycle. Sincerely, Cinnabar kindergartners”

“Dear North Bay Animal Services, Thank you for helping to make the dog safety presentation available for kids in our community. We’ve enjoyed Lesley‘s visits the last three years. The kids love it. Also, we love the sticker game. It is so awesome! First Grade Teacher,  Harvest Christian Elementary.”

“Mrs. Zoromski, Thanks again for meeting each of our classes. The kids loved the presentation and the information was presented in a way that was meaningful to them. The kids also enjoyed the dog safety sticker activity books from North Bay Animal Services. Thank you for reaching out to us! Kindergarten Teachers – Sonoma Mountain Elementary”


Dog Bite Warning Signs

Often dog bites occur because no one noticed and acted on the early warning signs given by the dog. My clients usually say, “He didn’t give us any warning…he just bit.” What is more likely is that the signals that the dog was giving were not recognized. To help with this, I’ve put a list of body language cues and behavior to be aware of that can indicate the dog maybe preparing to bite.

1. Observe the dogs face for early signs of stress and stop child/dog interactions if you see them.

  •  yawning -when they are not tired
  • flicking tongue 
  • darting eyes – as though looking for an exit
  • panting – when it’s not hot

2. If a dog actively moves away from the child or situation, do not let the child pursue them. It’s likely the dog is making a choice to feel safer or more comfortable. If the child continues to pursue him, the dog could feel forced take the next step and say, “Leave me alone!” with a bite.

3. Listen for growling. It may be soft, with no teeth showing, but it should be interpreted as the dog communicating that he wants the attention from the child to stop.

4. Look for an impression that the dog does not seem to be enjoying the attention and the following:

    •   stiff body – with a frozen stance or hunched back
    •  hard starring eyes, or half  moon eyes – (whites of the eyes are showing)
    •  tightly closed mouth

If you see any of combination of these signals, avoid the dog as these actions often occur moments before a bite.

Sometimes it’s the children’s behavior that needs to be addressed.  Just because a dog seems to tolerate when a child is laying on it, hugging it, pulling ears, legs, or the tail doesn’t mean the dog should tolerate this behavior. If the dog turns to leave or hides under an object, like a table, do not allow the child to grab for them or reach under the object for the dog. Look at the dog for signals they are or are not enjoying the attention and redirect the child. In my Stop, Look & Paws sticker activity, I address these issues in a way that will engage the child to make safe choices before a real life scenario occurs.

If kids are looking to interact with the dog that’s great, so help them find ways that are appropriate to interact. There are ways that children interact that can be fun for both children and the dog. In my future blogs I’ll give suggestions on ways children can interact that is fun for children and dogs.

Now that you have read this blog post, look at the photo of the boy kissing the dog. Do you see any of the signals given by the dog that would concern you?

I hope this information is helpful to keep child/dog interactions safe. Check our other post for body language cues that indicate your dog is enjoying interacting with your child