Making a Dog a Part of the Family
When you have young kids, adding a dog into the mix is a big decision. While your son or daughter may love the idea of a dog to play with, they probably won’t be great at cleaning up after them.
We’d suggest that parents be aware of what they’re taking on. If their hands are already very full, getting a dog and then not being able to manage won’t work. Your kid(s) won’t understand why the dog is being given away later if it was a bad decision.
With that said, when you get your dog, how do you integrate them well into your expanded family? Here are a few quick tips on that.
Plan Group Activities Together
With a new dog, they want to feel safe and comfortable in their new home.
Making a fuss of them to show that they’re cared for is a good way to do this. Children must be taught to not overwhelm their dog. No sudden movements or waving arms around that could scare them either. Dogs need to be approached slowly and carefully to check on their receptiveness to petting and to get them used to you first.
Once your dog is happy in their new environment and with the family, group activities are the next thing to plan. A picnic in the garden, afternoons out in the park or other activities helps them to learn to be friendly and sociable with people and other animals on their walks.
Get Older Kids to Agree to Manage the Dog
Kids have new ideas every second. This is great as a child because they have zero responsibility and throw random ideas out into the world. They’re not always a fan of having grown-up responsibilities when it comes to implementing their suggestions though.
For parents, this is an excellent teachable opportunity. Their kid(s) can learn about animals, what care they need, and what’s involved in every aspect of dog care. Taking ownership and being accountable are good lessons for children through this process.
Depending on the age of the children, assign different responsibilities:
· One child might feed their dog once a day (with a parent both checking it gets done and that they receive the appropriate amount/type of food). Also, let kids know what food dogs cannot eat safely.
· The oldest son or daughter may be allowed to take the dog out for walks locally before school too.
Adapting to Your Dog’s Needs
If you adopted the dog from an animal shelter, they’re usually a few years’ old at the time. In which case, their circumstances and requirements will change sooner than when having them from a puppy.
Sometimes they’ll need a special diet or veterinary treatment for problems that they develop. Mobility may become more of an issue for them with hip problems being one area of concern and general movement too. It may be necessary to move their doggie bed downstairs if they find climbing the stairs to be harder.
If they eventually develop a medical condition or age-related issues that have given them a mobility problem, then you might consider the idea of wheelchairs for your dog. Usually one is enough which can be sized up for their stature and support them when standing and walking around. It takes the weight off their back legs and hips, to make movement that bit easier, less painful and not exhausting.
Dogs make an excellent addition to the family. It teaches kids how to be a caring person and why responsibility is important in life. These are valuable life lessons in their own right.