Five tips to prepare your kids for dog ownership

So your family has decided to take on the task of owning a dog! Congratulations – welcoming a four-legged friend into the family is going to be an exciting day all around.

Your new dog will quickly become a beloved member of your family, especially with your children. However, it is important to prepare your kids for the reality of dog ownership.

Owning a dog isn’t all about cuddles and puppy kisses, and your kids should be prepared for the hard parts of the job. If you have made the decision to bring a dog into your home, here are five tips that will help your children become good dog owners.

1) Teach your kids how to behave around dogs

Getting a new pet is always an exciting day. However, your young children may get too excited with a new dog, which can result in them scaring or even hurting the pup. Reinforce the following tips:

  • Teach your children to carefully and calmly approach your dog
  • Remind them that dogs will need their space, just like humans do
  • Make sure they know never to bother a dog when they are eating or sleeping, as dogs can get territorial around food.
  • Your dog should never be used as a riding toy by younger kids, no matter how big of a breed you get
  • Teach your children to never yell or jump near your sleeping dog
  • Never let your child play games with your dog that could reinforce aggressive behavior, such as tug-of-war
  • Let them know that they shouldn’t stare your dog in the eye for a long period of time, as some dogs take this as a challenge or threat

2) Involve your kids in the daily care of your new dog

Owning a dog is a lot of work, so make sure your whole household gets involved. Your kids, even the younger ones, can all get involved in the care of your new pet.

Designate specific chores for every member of your family, young kids included. They can help feed your dog every day, as well as change the water in their bowl as needed.

Make sure to tell your kids what foods are toxic and dangerous that your dog should never eat. Estella Bolton at The Pampered Pup can also guide you on which food type is the best for your dog.

Enlist the children’s help during bath time as well. They’ll love the task of brushing your dog, and your dog will love them for it! Your kids can also help clean up after the dog, especially when they track in mud.

You can also let them help when you take your new family member out for a walk. However, never let a young child hold onto the leash of a dog that hasn’t been properly trained to interact in public. If the dog takes off, your child could get pulled or dragged by an over-excited animal.

3) Teach your kids how to work the equipment

Your kids should know how to use any equipment your new dog comes with. If you are crate training your new family member, show your kids how to work the door and locks. Help them put the collar on your dog and take it off again.

Show them how to attach a leash to the collar. If your dog uses a harness for anything, you can explain how one works. A car harness is a necessity for vet visits, so take the time to show your kids how to carefully buckle their pet in.

Letting your children learn how to work the equipment you purchase will make it easier for them to be involved with your new dog.

4) Teach your kids the basic dog commands

You’ll probably wish to teach your dog some basic dog commands, such as sit, stay, roll over, and heel. It’s important for your children to learn these commands, as well.

Consistency is a key point with dog training, which can get complicated when several household members are trying to do the same thing.

Make sure your kids are following the rules for teaching your new dog commands. They should be involved in the training of your new dog the entire time. This also helps bring your family together, as training your pup will take time and patience.

5) Dog sit for a family member or friend

Dog sitting can be a trial run to the actual event. Find a family member or friend who is willing to let you pet sit for a couple of days. Make sure your kids are involved with the dog the whole time they are there.

Your kids will get to see what having a dog is really like, and you will be able to see what areas you will need to work on with your kids once your own dog makes it home.