Children who will be around puppies need to know how to approach and handle the puppy, to protect both the puppy and the child. Children who live with the puppy must learn the rules, but so should nieces, nephews and the kids who live next door.
Never reach out and grab a puppy that doesn’t know you. Instead, talk gently to the puppy and offer him the back of your hand, with your fingers curled under, to sniff. Bring your hand slowly up to the puppy, and not down over his head. This lets him get used to your scent in a nonthreatening way and keeps your fingers out of his reach in case he decides to nip. Always keep your face back from the puppy, so that if he gets scared and tries to bite, he can’t reach your face.
Once the puppy has accepted you, it is safe to pet him. Don’t be rough or rub him hard, but instead stroke his chest and back. Don’t pet his head until he knows you better, as some puppies may feel threatened by that. Always stroke him in the same direction his hair grows, never against it.
Be careful when handling or lifting puppies, and don’t walk around carrying a puppy. Puppies can wiggle unexpectedly and may nip or scratch, and your first reaction might be to drop the puppy; if you do, he can be seriously hurt. Sit on the floor before handling a puppy, or sit where the puppy can’t fall if he gets away from you. Never toss or push a puppy away roughly no matter what he does, and don’t yell at him or hit him, either.
If you want to give the puppy a treat, hold it in your hand so the puppy can get the treat without grabbing any of your fingers. Puppies don’t always have good manners, and he may try to grab the treat before you are ready. Talk to him when you offer the treat, and don’t yank it away, since that may make him jump for your hand to try for the treat.
Puppies that are used to brushing often enjoy being brushed for fun, and it can keep them clean and tangle-free. Use a soft brush and brush in the direction the hair grows. Don’t brush around their eyes and ears if they aren’t used to you, since this can make them wiggly, and they may nip if you pull their hair or frighten them.
Don’t run away from a puppy, because his natural instinct will be to chase you. If he does run after you and grabs you or puts his paws on you, stop and tell him no, and gently but firmly make him leave you alone. Never let a puppy out where there are cars or even bicycles, because he can be seriously injured or even killed if he chases any kind of vehicle.