Introducing any new member into an existing household requires at least some sort of an adjustment period and adding a new canine into this mixture is certainly no exception. After all, these furry new friends are about to become the newest member of our family and since they’ll be treated as such, we can make the transition better for everyone involved.
Previously, we discussed options for choosing from a vast array of different dog breeds available to us and this is dependent upon a number of variables. Small dogs seem to be better for apartment living and often larger dogs tend to be a better option to actively play alongside growing children, especially if there’s a bigger, backyard involved.
But don’t be fooled by this seemingly obvious solution due to some possible, limited, living arrangements. For example, when it comes to larger canines, if you have your mind set on a big dog but you live in a smaller space, don’t close your door to this option.
Really large canines, like Saint Bernards, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundlands and Mastiffs have gained the title of “mat-dogs” since they spend an inordinate amount of time sleeping. They also make excellent playmates and are more rugged when it comes to dealing with smaller children.
Most youngsters will be thrilled with this new acquisition, but there’s also other emotional items to consider like jealousy. Just like the arrival of a new, human infant into an existing family dynamic, the extra attention this four-legged little love bug will demand could cause some bent feelers into an already happy home.
The best way for this transition to transpire without too much emotional turmoil is to assign animal-related tasks. This way every member of the family will spend some quality time with our new pet. These individual assignments like feeding, grooming, bathing, walking, playing and cleanup should be rotated so no one always winds up with a dirty detail every day.
Having The Talk
Be sure to educate your young people about how to behave properly around a pet. Don’t make assumptions like they’ll know better than to pull on their tails, ears or their genitals. Along with the aforementioned “no-no’s,” children and pets alike don’t appreciate being teased, taunted and other unacceptable behaviors.
The “Five Pillars” of pet owenership and needs is a key concept when it comes to considering the responsibility of owning a pet:
- Food and water
- Medical care
- And most importantly, Love!
Teaching children about the correct ways to interact, love and respect animals is a lesson best taught early in their lifetime.
In the same light, be sure your kids know how to approach a pet, in a non-threatening manner, especially those they don’t “know.” Any unleashed dog should be avoided, but a child should be encouraged to notify their parents or another responsible adult that there is a possible lost, frightened, possibly aggressive dog or stray animal in the area.
A neighborhood dog out for a walk should be friendly enough, but one never knows for sure what’s on the other end of that leash. Children should always ask the master if it is okay to approach their pet and then only do so in a calm way with adult supervision in place. Kids need to be taught to respect animals, not to fear them, but still be cautious with these types of new interactions.