Dogs can be great companions for growing kids and can be an excellent way to teach them to have more responsibilities as they get older, going from simple duties like feeding and grooming the dog to being responsible for taking them for walks when they are old enough to take them out on their own.
If you have never had a dog at home with your child before, then it can be a really exciting time when you first bring a rescue dog or new puppy home, and your child is sure to be thrilled with their new friend, but it is important to also prepare them in terms of what to expect and how to treat the new dog before it arrives.
Here are some tips:
Remind Younger Children that Pets Aren’t Toys
Very young children may have trouble understanding that a living dog is not like a toy and that it will have moods, need to rest sometimes, and can be hurt by being pulled about. This is especially important because as well as making sure the dog feels comfortable around your child, it will also mean the child treats the dog with respect and is less likely to be scared by the dog growling or snapping at them. Teach them good ways to approach the dog and pet it, and some games they can play with the dog, such as fetch that will be fun for them both without risking the child or dog getting overexcited and boisterous!
Set Up Spaces For the Dog Before it Arrives
Before you get your dog, have your child either help or watch while you set up a new bed and get things that will be used for the dog like bowls, leashes and toys ready. This will help your child to get used to the new things that come with the dog, and to the bed. Consider teaching them that when the dog is in his bed, he will be resting, and so it is best not to disturb him, if you have a younger child you want to learn not to bother the new dog too much while he is getting used to your family. Make sure when you are shopping for things like a dog bed you consider how big your dog will get, especially if it’s a puppy, as large dogs need nice, big, comfortable places to sleep, so if you’re getting a bigger breed, get your large dog the best dog bed possible.
Talk About Training
Your child will probably want to join in the fun of training the dog, and kids of all ages can have a role to play in this, whether it’s managing training the dog to do something by themselves, or helping you do it by giving the treats and petting the dog when it is good. It is good to talk to your child about this and what the plan is for what you need to train the dog about, and how you’re going to do it. This will make them feel involved and help them bond with the pet, but will also help avoid them doing things you want to train the dog not to do, like feeding them scraps from the table or getting up on the furniture! You are certain to have a great time bringing a new dog into your family, but be sure to talk to your child about what to expect in all the excitement!