Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for the whole family. Your kids will have a new companion they can grow and play with for the next several years, and you’ll have a snuggle buddy for a late-night movie. What could be better?
Preparing your kids for your family’s new addition is crucial to ensure a good experience for them and their new furry friend, especially if they haven’t been around a puppy extensively.
1. Talk about puppy interactions
Puppies can be quickly excited or overwhelmed, leading to issues like jumping, hiding, or biting. Whether you purchase or rescue a dog, there will likely be a warming-up period.
Explain to your kids that the puppy will need time to adjust and let it come to them. Tell them not to take any fear responses personally as the animal needs time to adapt to its new environment.
As puppies start playing more, you must teach them correct play behaviors. Talk to your kids about how the puppy may jump or bite when trying to play and that it could hurt. You’ll want to supervise their interactions for a while, but you can teach your kids to say a stern “no” or put it in the crate for some “calm-down time” if it gets too much.
Most importantly, instruct your kids to never be physical with your dog unless it attacks them.
It’s natural for kids to want to strike a puppy that’s causing them pain, but that will only hurt the bonding process. That doesn’t mean your kid has to take the pain. Teach them to implement the previous techniques and have them offer an alternative toy to bite or walk away from the puppy, so it learns that those play methods are unacceptable.
Prepare your kids by assuring them that puppies mellow out over time as they grow and learn — patience is one of the best gifts they can give their new friend.
2. Explain responsibilities
A puppy is a beautiful gift for your kids, but teaching them about the responsibilities of owning one is essential.
Puppies need food, water, treats, toys, and attention. Get your kids involved in picking out ergonomic food and items their new friends will need.
If you choose to crate train your dog, explain to your kids why you’re doing so. Talk about how some dogs like using a crate like a den — and that it’s the puppy’s space only. Explain when the puppy will be in and out of its crate and how they should operate it.
Tell them how much you need to feed your puppy and what they can and cannot eat. Explain how some human foods can be dangerous for a dog, and they shouldn’t be given large treats or toys without supervision as they could choke.
You’ll want to discuss training your dog and how they can help and utilize treats. Consider taking your kids along to training or showing them commands you’re working on when you get home. Have a list of commands that all family members can review with your puppy so that it learns to listen to everyone.
You will also need to speak with them about housetraining your dog. Talk about how puppies can have accidents, and it may be gross, but it’s part of the process.
If your kids aren’t too squeamish, have them help you clean up anytime your dog relieves itself and teach them to reward the puppy for pottying outside. You should also prepare your kids by explaining they will need to pick up poop if they take it on a walk.
3. Help children learn to puppy-proof
Before bringing home a new puppy, you’ll need to puppy-proof your home. Teach your kids not to leave any cords plugged in within the dog’s reach and that they need to keep any small or valuable items off the floor and out of reach.
Teach them to keep toilet lids down, and all doors and windows closed to prevent the puppy from getting itself into a bad situation.
Also, prepare your kids by explaining they need to move any cleaning supplies or medications out of their usual spots to prevent the dog from getting into them.
Prepare your kids for a puppy
It’s essential in this exciting new phase of your lives to prepare your kids to live with a new dog.
Prepare your kids by teaching them what to expect and what changes must happen before the puppy arrives. This will give your kids a better bonding experience with their new furry friend, with whom they’re sure to make beautiful memories.
Jane Marsh is an environmental writer passionate about pet care and health. To read more of her work, follow her site Environment.co.