Are you thinking about introducing a dog to your family?
Well, you aren’t the only one! These cuddly canine companions are a family favorite around the country. Indeed, 60.2 million households in America already have one.
With everybody doing it, you’d expect that owning a dog to be easy. Don’t be misled by those numbers though. Caring for any animal requires a hefty investment of time, effort, and money; dogs are no exception.
Moreover, having actual kids around can complicate matters further. Excited children go crazy for these cute little balls of fur! Alas, it isn’t always what’s best for the poor puppy.
It’s helpful to have some guidance on bringing a hound into a household for the first time. Upskilling yourself from the outset ensures everybody (the dog included!) stays happy and healthy. Sound good?
Read on to for 7 top tips on introducing a new dog to the family.
1. Set the Ground Rules
Young children need to learn how to interact with the new dog.
Be sure to educate them as soon as possible. Teach your children that grabbing fur, pulling tails and being overly rough is wrong. Demonstrate how to do it and reward them for gentle stroking and patting instead.
Treating the puppy gently will make sure it feels safe and secure. Understandably, dogs can become prickly and impatient with excitable children around. Puppies, in particular, may snap, scratch and bite children that push their buttons too far.
Laying the ground rules for interacting with them will keep everybody happy.
2. Supervise the Interaction
The best way to ensure everybody plays nice is to supervise puppy-child interactions.
Keep an eye on how your children are playing with and handling the new hound. Reward good practice and remind them when they’re doing something incorrectly.
Likewise, watch out for the puppy too. It might not be used to socializing with kids; you’ll want to train it to respond to commands and get used to being with them.
Treat the puppy for good behavior, as much as you do the kids! Likewise, isolating the animal for misdemeanors will discourage repeat offenses. Be consistent in your rewards and punishment, and you’ll start to see positive developments.
3. Learn Doggy Behavioural Cues
Prevention is always better than a cure.
You don’t want your dog to be unhappy or for family members to get nipped or bitten. Thankfully, dogs tend not to attack out of nowhere. There will often be signs well ahead of time that reveals their mood.
Picking up on these early on will help allay possible issues. For instance, fur that’s standing on end, tails that are fixed and rigid, and ears pinned to the head can all indicate a wary and aggressive mood.
Read up on basic doggy body language to help you read the situation.
4. Don’t Introduce the Dog to Everybody at Once
New dogs can feel intimidated by large groups of new and excited people patting and paying them attention. If they feel start to feel threatened, then there’s a higher chance that they’ll lash out.
Toddlers can be somewhat overzealous in their enthusiasm to say hello! When there are multiple children in the house, it’s best to reveal the dog to them one at a time. They’re less likely to become overwhelmed by the introduction.
Of course, it’s less of an issue if your kids are old enough to control their response to the puppy. If they can stay calm and treat the dog gently, then you’re unlikely to have any problems.
5. Be Careful with Treats and Toys
Treats can be a great way to train the puppy how to behave.
However, they can also end in tears if you aren’t careful. It’s often recommended to leave them out of initial introductions. Remember, there’s nothing more exciting to a new puppy than food!
Likewise, they lack the training to take it gently from a human hand. Your poor children could get a nipped finger if an excited puppy snatches the snack or toy from them.
As a rule of thumb, calm introductions are safe introductions. Removing unnecessary stimulation for everyone (dog and children!) can lead to the best results.
Children that are determined to give their new best friend a treat could lay it on the floor instead. Safe from sharp teeth, everyone’s winner!
6. Involve the Children in Training
Enlist your children (if they’re old enough) into the dog training regime.
Remember, dogs are pack animals. They abide by perceived ranks and are less likely to follow orders from those they deem beneath them in the pecking order.
Involving your kids in dog training at an early stage will ensure the dog follows their orders too.
Even better, it can provide useful techniques for kids to use when the dog gets over-excited. Teaching them commands of ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘lie down’ can empower them.
It’s also good fun! Your children will love seeing the dog respond to their commands. Moreover, it all amounts to greater interaction between canine and kids. That’s sure to facilitate a loving relationship between them.
7. Keep Puppies Entertained and Active
You’ll soon realize that puppies (just like your children!) have a never-ending supply of energy.
The worst thing you can do is let it build up. Puppies that are full of energy misbehave. Conversely, tired animals are far more passive and easy to control.
Make sure you keep your new dog as active as possible. Take them for walks (use a leash, and take the kids with you!), play games with them, and let them out in the garden.
And, of course, give them plenty of love and cuddles too! That said, your kids will have that covered anyway…
Time to Make a Success of Introducing a Dog to Your Family
Tens of millions of households around the country own a dog.
It’s no small wonder. After all, they’re called man’s best friend for a reason!
These lovable balls of fur make an awesome addition to any home. All the same, introducing a dog to the family is a big deal. It’s a serious commitment of time and energy.
What’s more, with children around, you have to ensure everybody’s safe and well-behaved. Hopefully, this post has provided all the information you need to do it successfully.
Like this post? Want to make sure getting a pet is right for you? Click here to read about the risk of pets to health.