Through the day's long hours, the pups rotate from play to sleep, making me envious of their simple life. Eat, sleep, play, repeat. Any movement or noise on my part brings them leaping against the side of the pen, ready to run and wrestle. Regardless of what I do, their careless claws and sharp, puppy teeth leave marks on my bare legs and arms. To them I am just one of the pack.
At this stage in their development, the puppies are functioning under a pack-mentality. They view people as being part of that pack, albeit bigger and funnier looking. We started Annie's Doodles when I was 10. I learned quickly that if you let them, puppies will walk all over you; which, though lots of fun, can be intimidating to those who aren't used to dealing with puppies' rambunctious nature. At the onset puppies have no concept of what humans consider "good" or "bad" behavior. This is an essential realization that all would-be puppy owners need to understand, especially those who have never had a dog before.
Pups will be pups, until you train them. And, in many ways, you will also need to train your children on how to react to the pup's desire to play. This is a great learning opportunity for young children, teaching them how to react responsibly to a situation that feels overwhelming or out of control.
Whenever young children come over to the house at Annie's Doodles, we always tell them, "If you feel uncomfortable or scared by the pup stand up, and say 'off' in a firm voice." The solution may seem over simple, but it works like magic! When sitting down, whether adult or child, you are on the pup's level. Your very presence is an invitation for them to jump and lick and nip, so its unfair to yell at pup or get angry. By standing up, the child establishes that they are on a different level, though they may still get bumped and scratched a little it will be on their legs and not around sensitive areas like the face and neck. Having a puppy for your kids to play with, care for, and learn from is wonderful but, as with all new things, it takes a little getting used to. By teaching your kids to take control of the situation, you are also helping your pup learn what is and is not appropriate in their new pack...your family!
Best of Luck,
Hannah & the Doodles