Posted Aug 25, 2019
So, you're thinking about getting a puppy? If you're thinking about it, it's only a matter of time so- congratulations! They are so fun and their soft fur begs you to cuddle them constantly. There is nothing like watching a new puppy run or play or sleep or eat...oh let's face it, they are stinking adorable. Add our kids to the scenario and we're on full cute overload.
For as many wonderful things that a new puppy brings to the family they also bring added responsibilities and patience. We're talking walking them, feeding them, cleaning up after them, giving them a bath, potty training. We've teamed up with BarkBox to help you welcome a puppy into the family -- supplies you need, training ideas, and ideas about getting kids involved in caring for the pet.
This post is sponsored by BarkBox. CertifiKID receives compensation from companies whose products we recommend to our audience. However, we only promote businesses we genuinely believe in and feel will appeal to our subscribers.
Shopping! The best part about getting a puppy is the shopping. Make getting the essentials a family affair; food, bed, ID collar, food dish, toys... and poop bags- very important. Lucky for you there are several options that make the added weekly groceries easier. There are companies that automatically send dog food every couple of weeks. Or companies like BarkBox that send toys, treats, and chews every month. It's like a present for your pup and your kids will love it too. Each month there is a different fun theme. Even better, they grow as your puppy grows. The treats and toys get more mature over time.
Prep the House
We all like to think that we're going to adopt the one puppy that immediately knows the difference between a shoe and a toy. You know... the puppy that would never get in the trash. Be realistic, you're going to have to puppy-proof your house. Put the shoes in a closet, hide the trash, don't leave valuables on a low shelf. Make sure cabinet doors are latched and all food is out of reach. And keep in mind, kid's toys bear a striking resemblance to dog toys.
Creating a routine will help ease the transition and establish who does what before the new addition arrives. It's okay to assign responsibilities to each member of the family- who is responsible for the walking, training, feeding (etc.) and what time do these things take place? That leads us into age appropriate chores...
It's important that your children get involved in the preparation and care-taking of the new puppy. Not only will it help to create a bond between them and the dog but it will also teach them responsibility.
Up to Age 3
Starting slow can be difficult because even as adults our first instinct is to love on a puppy. Teaching your kids boundaries is important at this stage. Part of their 'job' is to learn how to gently pet the puppy and call it by name.
Trusting new puppy around kids and trusting kids around new puppy can take time. Avoid leaving them alone until you are comfortable that they can behave. Watching the puppy's body language will help to determine if it's relaxed with your kids. Being present allows you to observe their behavior, remind your kids of the rules, or intervene if a situation occurs.
Need a helper? Though still too young to perform chores alone, this is a great age for your kids to help you! Giving the puppy food and water is a great place to start. Kiddos can easily practice scooping out the food and putting it into the bowl.
Tip on Treats: To avoid an accidental nip, start giving treats by dropping them to the floor.
Another great chore is grooming. Let your child gently brush the dog.
If your child is in school they are ready to assume more responsibility for pet care. They might be ready to feed the dog by themselves and give treats. If you trust your puppy, the way to give treats is with an open hand, palm up.
Another great 'chore' they can do is to start training the puppy. Fetch is a great game to teach. Start by balling up a piece of paper and tossing it a few feet away. The puppy will sniff and hopefully bring it back when you call them.
They can also participate in taking the puppy for a walk. Tie an extra loop on the leash and allow them to hold it with you. This also helps to mature the owner/dog relationship and create a bond.
Ages 8 and Up
At age 8, adopting a new puppy might be less scary as your child is old enough to take on a lot of the responsibilities of owning a dog. They will be able to feed and groom the puppy, play in a safe, enclosed area, take the puppy for walks, and clean up after them. All with your supervision.
Training a new puppy is as much for the family as it is the puppy. The first few weeks can seem daunting with all the new things you're introducing. There are a few skills that you can begin teaching the puppy on day one.
Of course this tops the list. Potty training can be the most stressful part of getting a new puppy. Try to be patient and remember that young puppies do not have full control of their bladder yet. They will learn quickly if you are consistent with letting them outside or taking them for walks.
Call your puppy by name, often. Make sure it's in a positive, upbeat tone so as not to scare them. When you call their name reward them with praise when they look or come to you. Try to avoid using the name in a negative connotation.
Building trust between you and the dog is important. You'll eventually need to trust them with your children, to be alone in the house, and around other people. The number one most important thing to establishing trust is to be kind to your puppy. Take walks, gently pet, provide food and water frequently. Once the trust is established you'll have a lifelong companion.
Welcoming a puppy to the family is a huge adjustment- it requires patience, responsibility, and structure to ensure the safety of puppy and kids. But don't forget to have fun! Much like our children, puppies become fully grown so fast. You'll only have the fumbling, fluffy, cute fur ball for a short time so enjoy it. And then bask in the knowledge that you're giving your kid the friend of a lifetime.
Getting a new puppy and going back to school? Make the transition easier with these tips- Getting Back-to-School Ready: Time, Money and Sanity-Saving Hacks and Tips From our CEO.
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