By Fiona Rigg, PAWDinkum.

When it comes to introducing a new furry family member to your toddler, there are steps you can take to make the experience a good one for every member of the family, including the new four-legged one!

Fiona Rigg is the founder of PAWDinkum. Image: Supplied.

  • Until you are 100 percent sure that your pooch and toddler know how to behave around each other – always be present.
  • Set it up to be: casual and relaxed. Don't rush the first meeting, just like a first date, first impressions are important. Put your best foot forward to make a good impression. It will strengthen the bond between your toddler and your new furry family member.
  • Children will be very excited when they finally meet their new fur sibling, it's important to encourage them to speak in their gentle quiet voice as the pup will never have seen a little person before and may be quite frightened, his first instinct may be to run.
  • Be patient, practice makes perfect. Chill out and be relaxed. Make sure no one is too tired or hungry for the initial hello.
  • Take the first introduction slowly, ask your toddler to speak in their soft quiet voice, explaining it's important to be gentle with dogs, not to tug their hair or poke them, just gentle stoking.
  • If visiting a new dog, encourage them to always ask "May I pat your dog please?"
  • Discourage the dog being smothered with love with the initial meet and greet – suggest a tickle under the chin, a pat on the head and a few soothing words will be sufficient. Your pup will clearly let you know if he wants more.
  • It's important to get your pooch used to being touched and stroked all over and they understand the basic commands: The basic 'sit', 'stay', 'down', 'leave' and 'come' when called.
  • Explain never touch or get too close to a dog whilst they are with food or their special toy.
  • Be a good role model, kids are quick learners.

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  • Show them how to let the dog smell your hand by your side, don't make any fast moves or loud noises in the first meeting. However, it's important to not be over protective from regular household noises, and it's a good idea to get him accustomed to the sound of such appliances as the vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, radio, television and washing machine and the normal family life.
  • Allow your children to handle the new dog under your supervision. They will soon love and accept him/her and be a loyal loving family member.