Is your 4-Year-Old Too Rough With Puppy? (Here’s What To Do?)

Having little kids and little animals at home is a huge responsibility. It is expected if you have a 4-year-old child who is too rough with your puppy, as 4-year-olds are still too young to understand what a puppy is and how to deal with it. 

Puppies are fragile, yet they are little dogs. The consequences of a child being rough with an animal can be really bad. Moreover, the puppy may get hurt. So there is no way you can allow it.

Reasons your 4-year-old is too rough with a puppy?

There can be many reasons why your 4-year-old is harsh with a little dog.

He doesn’t understand what a puppy is:

4-year-olds are still very young to understand. If your little one has not been around animals before the new puppy, he might not understand what an animal is and how to deal with it.

He enjoys hurting the puppy:

When your little one hurts the puppy, the puppy will whine or bark. The child might be taking it as fun. Not all kids are empathetic to animals at this age. Some kids even enjoy hurting them. 

He’s actually trying to play:

Your 4-year-old may be actually trying to play with the puppy, but he doesn’t know how to do it. Rough play is a normal part of a child’s development, but of course, you cannot afford him to be rough with an animal. 

He doesn’t like the puppy:

Is it a grudge? Do you spend more time with your puppy, or does your little one think that the little animal gets more attention than him? Or did he want another pet, such as a cat?

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How to save the puppy?

Puppies are fragile. They can get hurt easily. Moreover, the counterattack may be horrible. 

Here are a few tips to save your puppy when your 4-year-old is being rough with him. 

1- Confine your puppy to a separate area of the house until he is housetrained:

Whether your child is being harsh with the puppy or not, it is always advised to keep your puppy confined to an area where the floor is easier to clean until he is potty trained. Use baby gates or a playpen to allocate space for your puppy. 

Read more about a puppy’s potty training here.

Your child should not be able to reach the puppy’s allocated area. Keep the puppy playpen in a house where kids cannot access it. 

2- Do not let your child play with the puppy until he learns to keep a pet:

Do not allow your child to play with the puppy in any case. Make your kid learn first. Tell him what a puppy is and how fragile he is. 

Your child must understand that the consequence of being rough with the puppy is “not playing with the puppy at all.” 

If you think your kid has learned, only allow supervised playtime initially. 

3- Keep the puppy on a leash with you when not confined:

It’s best to crate train your puppy but when he is not in the crate, keep him on a leash with you. Attach the leash with your clothes and keep the puppy near you. 

If the child becomes rough with the puppy, you will be there to take care of the matter. 

4- I can’t say; give them time:

Many times, I say that give your child time to learn. But I won’t recommend giving him time to learn in this case. 

If you do so, your puppy can be hurt, or your child may suffer the consequences. 

5- Keep the puppy toys and your child’s toys in separate areas:

Keep your puppy’s and your child’s belongings, especially toys, in a completely separate area. Do not let your puppy reach the area where your child’s toys are placed, and do not allow the child to touch the puppy’s toys. 

How do I get my 4-year-old used to a puppy?

Getting a 4-year-old used to a puppy can be difficult, but it is absolutely doable. 

Story books can be your best friend to make your child understand how to behave with the little animal. 

1- Explain what a puppy is and model the behavior:

Verbally explain what a puppy is, how he lives, what he eats, and how he reacts to your actions. 

Make your kid sit on the sofa and show him how to play gently with a puppy. Then allow him to touch it. Only allow supervised playtime. 

2- get your 4-year-old some storybooks about dogs:

Storybooks can be your best friend when you want to get your 4-year-old used to a dog or a puppy.

Here are a few good suggestions.

Tails Are Not for Pulling:

This book explains how kids and pets belong together, but not when the child chases, grabs, squeezes, yanks, or teases the animal. 

The storybook tells the child how to play with a pet without hurting them. It teaches careful handling, awareness, safety, and respect for pets. 

“Tails are not for pulling” can be the most helpful book if your 4-year-old is rough with the puppy.

Click here to order “tails are not for pulling” on Amazon.

May I Pet Your Dog?

The storybook “may I pet your dog?” explains the concept of gently meeting a new dog or puppy. It explains to the child the idea of building a connection first before starting to play with a pet. 

Click here to order “May I pet your dog?” on Amazon.

Kid’s Guide to Dog Care:

Kid’s guide to dog care is specifically illustrated for kids between 4-8 years old. It tells them how to care for a dog without hurting or risking their safety. 

Click here to order “Kid’s guide to dog care” on Amazon.

My Dog!: A Kids’ Guide to Keeping a Happy and Healthy Pet:

Another kid guide to keeping a pet happy and healthy. It tells them more about caring for dogs and playing with them without being harsh or rough.

This is a complete book for kids who have a dog at home. 

Click here to order “My Dog!” on Amazon.

3- tell him that he is not allowed to touch the puppy until he learns:

Verbally tell your child that he is not allowed to touch the puppy until he learns how to be gentle with them.

Make sure you are also gentle with your child. Do not yell at him or shout. He shouldn’t think badly about the puppy. Otherwise, he’ll become jealous and hurt him more. 

4- give him a puppy stuffed toy and make him practice:

Give your child a stuffed puppy to play with and make him practice behaving with a puppy gently. 

5- Do not make him afraid of the puppy:

Do not make your 4-year-old afraid of the puppy. Yes, tell him the consequences of being too rough with an animal but explain that it won’t happen when you two are friends, and you will be gentle to him. 


Your 4-year-old is too rough with your puppy because he doesn’t know what a puppy is and what is the right way to play with him. 

Confine your puppy using a puppy playpen or baby gates, and do not let the child play with it until he learns. 

Get your little one stuffed puppies and storybooks explaining how to gently spend time with the puppy.

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