Most kids nag their parents for a dog some time in their childhood. Kids love dogs and dogs love kids – most of the time. However, the early stages of a child and pet’s relationship can be problematic in some instances. To ensure a happy relationship, you need to take a few steps before adding a furry friend to the family.
Set Rules with the Family
It is important to lay down a few ground rules for both your child and other family members before the new dog arrives. Depending on the age of your child, they can help take care of the dog, like playing, feeding, providing water, and cleaning up the little messes that comes with having a dog. This will also teach your child kindness and responsibility.
Do not assume that your child will instinctively know how to deal with a pup or dog, or with any animal for that matter. Your child’s natural instincts may be to see the pet in the same light as a toy, especially toddlers. Children may also feel that the pet must interact with them only as they please without understanding that the dog does not perceive their environment in the same way as humans do.
Explain to your child how to treat the dog. If it is a little puppy, they need to be gentle and not to hurt the puppy. If it is a grown dog and is not used to children, explain to your child to use their soft indoor voice, and not show any signs of aggression even if it is unintentional. This will help the dog get used to children and settle in.
Give Your Dog Their Own Identity
Your pet will become part of the family but he or she also needs to have their own identity. This will include their own belongings and space. Stocking up on dog supplies beforehand will ease your dog’s move into your household. It will help your child understand that the pet has its own needs and space. It will also allow your child to partake with pet responsibilities.
- Bed: A soft, comfy bed provides the perfect den and gives your dog some peace and quiet. Discourage your child from invading the dog’s space too often or disturbing your pet when he/she is resting.
- Collar: A proper-fitting collar with ID tag that include your current contact details is important if your dog gets lost. However, it is also a way for child to understand that your pet’s possessions are theirs and should not be taken away.
- Dog food and treats: Nutritious food and treats ensure that your dog is well nourished and healthy. It will also allow your child to understand that a dog cannot be fed with just any food or treats, especially sweets and chocolates which can be harmful to the dog.
- Grooming items: Pet shampoo and a hairbrush are some of the mandatory items necessary to avoid parasites, maintain a healthy coat and keep your dog smelling pleasant. It will allow your child to differentiate between the pet’s toiletries and that of a human, further adding to your pet’s individuality.
- Leash: Your dog will require regular walks and a leash is important. A leash will also allow your child to learn how to control their pet when out of the home environment and establish a relationship between pet and pet owner.
- Toys: A durable ball and few chewable toys will keep your dog entertained. It will also help to separate your dog’s possessions from your child’s and thereby avoid potential conflict.