FROM: HuntersMommy
CATEGORY: Behaviour
SUBJECT: 3 year old and new puppy

We recently got a new puppy and my 3 year old son loves him but is extremely rough. The dog is very tolerable of his behavior. My son is constantly wrestling, laying, pulling, and sometimes even kicks/hits the dog. Since getting the dog his behavior has gotten worse in pre-school, he has been wrestling more with the boys, not listening as well, etc (I do work in the day care center where his pre-school is but not in his room)

I thought maybe he was acting as many would, when a new baby comes into the house because the dog was getting a little extra attention. I make sure we have time to play games and spend alone time togeher, but he always wants to include the dog. I have tried time outs when he is naughty towards the dog, but after he says sorry he goes right back to picking on the dog. I have also tried to explain to him a few times on why we need to be nice to the dog.

I have taken away his most prized possesions (hockey) and have even even threatened to call nanny Jo (which tends to be a good threat, he gets very scared and the behaviors stops for a little while.) Threatening to call Nanny Jo wont work forever.

I am looking for any other suggestions to stop the abuse of the dog and also to help him at school.

Thank you!

Children who roughhouse and misbehave in school, you will see a tendency for them to roughhouse and misbehave with dogs and pets alike. It's the behavior that needs to be addressed. There is a link between a child who will be more domineering and show bully-ish behaviors to children, they'll also show a tendency to do that with dogs – pull their ears or tail, bite or kick because they're looking for a reaction (whether from a human or a dog). The repetition in being able to tell your son to be kind to the dog is important, for the boundaries are equally important. Your child is old enough to understand that their behavior is unacceptable and you do have to put a naughty technique in place and that's what I would do.

But more importantly, you should take a look at his social skills. Have him invite friends over so you can watch his social interactions with other kids in the room. And, I would also give your son responsibilities in helping out with the new puppy as well. Perhaps let him lay down the dog's food or brush him and acquaint him with the way in which we take care of an animal. It is abuse against an animal, so you must make a conscious decision to work with him to change his behavior.
He's not fully going to understand the awareness because a puppy is small, smaller than a little boy, and it's much like when you bring home a new baby around a toddler. But it's still all in the behavior.

Bring in more awareness and responsibility; reward and praise also come into play. Reward him with praise for his kind behavior towards the puppy. Make sure you work on his social skills as well with play dates both at the house and on the playground or other neutral territory.

One other thing, he may see you working with other kids and get jealous and know the way he can get your attention is to get a reaction out of you when he does something bad with another kid or even the dog. This is a hard situation, since you have to work and can't drop everything to discipline him when you see this occurring, but find the boundary yourself and address any hints of jealously when you can.

Best wishes,

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