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Papillons and Children

Overview

Do Papillon puppies and dog get along well with children?  This is a great question and an important one if you are thinking of adding a Pappy to a household with young toddlers.  In this section we will cover the aspects of:
  • How this breed gets along with children
  • Reasons why a Pappy not be right for homes with young children
  • Steps you can take to keep a Papillon safe and happy when the dog live among kids
Papillon Breed Trait Characteristics in Regard to Children

The Papillon is generally a very active and sociable dog.  This would at first make one assume that he would get along famously with children.  However, another trait element of this breed is that the Pappy tends to be skittish with loud, abrupt noises and has a low tolerance for commotion.

A Pappy may find high-energy households with children too overwhelming.  This can cause the puppy or dog to become nervous (there may be whining, whimpering or shaking), fearful (which can cause the dog to snap or nip) and/or begin to exhibit behavioral problems. 

With this said, the issue of Papillons and children really depends on the age of the child and also his or her demeanor.   Households with young toddlers and children under the age of 10 years old may not be the best fit.  With kids this age, there is often a boisterous atmosphere with lots of loud play and running throughout the house.

While a Pappy may handle this just fine for short, temporary times, when this breed is exposed to this sort of energy and noise level on a constant basis, it can have quite an effect.

As tension builds and the dog has nowhere to escape what feels like an overbearing situation, the Papillon may then act out by nipping at the child, barking and either withdrawing or exerting hyper behavior.

Households with older children – usually 10 years and up - can be a good fit for the Papillon dog.   Most youngsters at this age are old enough to play with less noise and are able to respect the Pappy’s personal space.

Injuries Related to Young Children


With Papillon dogs 2 years and younger, trauma is the 2nd leading cause of death.  This includes such things as car accidents but most importantly it includes accidents at home.   Being dropped and being accidentally stepped on are two major concerns when thinking about mixing a Papillon puppy with young children.

The Pappy is a high energy dog that can move quickly and be ‘under your foot’ in the blink of an eye.  Also, when children handle and carry the dog, if the Pappy wiggles and breaks free this can cause injury.

Steps to Take When Having Both a Papillon and Children

Many breeders will not sell a Papillon puppy to households with children younger than a certain age.  This can range from 8 to 12 years old.   Though, with others, this decision can be made on a case to case basis.

There are some things that an owner can do to help both the Pappy and children get along:


1) Teach children proper handling techniques.   The dog should not be continually picked up; however for those times that it is indeed warranted it should be done in a specific way.  The dog should be approached from the side as not to startle him.   Both hands should be used to securely hold the Pappy,  with one under his rump and the other firmly but gently holding across the chest with the dog held close to the body.

Young children tend to pull at the tails, fur and ears of a puppy and this should not be allowed at all.  Ear fringes are already very sensitive and can be quite damaged when two Pappy puppies play together.  To have a child pull at the ear hairs will not only cause damage that can prevent proper ear fringe growth but also will aggravate the dog – perhaps enough to nip.

2)  Create a Personal Haven for the Pappy.
Children should be taught that the Papillon puppy or dog needs to have his own personal space.  An area that has open access for the dog to come and go but provides a secure, quiet environment is best.  For example, a gated off area with the entrance left open (it can be closed when the dog is home alone). 

This should be in a spot that offers a comfortable and quiet retreat but not so far away that he feels isolated.  In this area there should be a quality bed and the dog’s favorite toys.

3)  Keep Play Areas Separated. If you have young children, it would be best if they had an area to play that was not in the same room as where the Pappy will spend most of his time.  You will not want to have to confine the dog nor will you want to have to send children outside to play all of the time.  A good example would be a playroom/ family room for the children and a living room for the Pappy to play, rest and be with his humans.

Toys should be kept separate as well. Very young toddlers may confuse their toys with the dog’s toys and this can create a very tense situation as the Pappy feels that his belongings are being taken away.  This can lead to behavioral issues as tensions rise.   A recommended solution is to have distinct toy bins for both the dog and the child with clear instructions for the child to not disrupt the Pappy’s toys.

If there is no choice but to have both children and a Papillon sharing the same room for play, a close eye will need to be kept to prevent scattered toys on the floor from becoming mixed. 

4) The Pappy’s Dining Area Should be Off Limits.  Dogs in general are very protective of their food and water bowls.   When you have a breed like the Papillon that already has a low tolerance for the energy of young kids and can become nervous due to activity and noise, this can cause problems if the dog feels that people are coming too close to his food and water.

There should be no foot traffic within a 4 foot radius (if not more) of where the bowls are placed down.

Situations that may cause a Pappy to become nervous with children can include if the youngsters sit at the dining table to do homework and the dog’s feeding area is in close proximity.  Also, just having the family dine too close to the feeding station can cause problems if dinnertime is a loud, boisterous event.

If the kitchen is too small to offer the Papillon enough personal space away from children, you may want to bring the bowls to another room and place them in a quiet corner.  A rubber place mat can be placed on the floor to protect it from spills.

5) Inclusion Regarding Care. It is recommended to include children in care tasks such as walking, feeding and grooming.  The proper age to start doing this will depend on the child’s maturity level.   It will be an important element to incorporate since you will want the Papillon to see children as leaders.  When a child is seen as being on the same level as the dog, this can create situations of snapping and nipping (similar to how puppies play with each other and bite when irritated).

As a child grows older, more tasks can be worked into the routine until he or she has learned how to properly bathe, groom and feed the Pappy.

Allowing a child to be part of command training will also go a long way in regard to the puppy or dog’s view of the child in the hierarchy of the home.


Summary

As you can see by the above guidelines, having both young children (roughly age 10 and younger) and a Papillon in the same household is not recommended and can cause quite a few problems.

This is not to say that it cannot be done. 

It you do have both kids and a Pappy, things will go much smoother is rules are followed to keep a child safe from nipping and the puppy or dog safe from stress and stress related behavioral issues.