(article by Jessica Brody)
Pets are wonderful companions, but when you have a family it’s important to take into consideration what everyone’s needs are and how well you’ll be able to care for an animal. Young children need a pet that will be patient and not too nervous around a lot of activity, while older kids might enjoy having a puppy they can help train and take care of.
No matter what age your kids are, you’ll want to be sure to educate them about how to properly handle the animal and help take care of it, as a family pet is a family responsibility. Training the dog on how to behave around the kids is also a must, as you don’t want any accidents that could have been prevented.
Here are a few of the best ways to be a successful pet parent when you have kids.
Talk to your kids
Before you bring home a new pet, talk to your children about how things will change around the house. For instance, you might want them to take an active interest in the animal’s care– feeding, walking, playtime– or you may need to prepare them for how much attention a puppy will need, both day and night.
Prepare your home
Having things ready at your home for your new pet will go a long way towards helping him feel safe and comfortable. Stock up on food and treats, buy a collar and leash, food and water bowls, bedding and toys, and any bathroom necessities and have them all ready to go. It’s also a good idea to think about a kennel if you’re getting a puppy so that you can train him to sleep there; this way, when you have to go out during the day, he won’t be upset about being alone.
You’ll also want to think about how you’ll handle your pet’s needs when you’re away. If you and your family members are unable to be home during the day, consider hiring a dog walker to come and let him out/feed him so you’ll have a happy pup when you get home.
Teach your kids how to interact with the pet
Most kids love animals, but some little ones can be a bit rambunctious, which can cause problems with some pets. It’s important to teach your family the best ways to interact with the pet and what not to do. Some of the most important things to remember when it comes to dogs are that you should avoid direct eye contact, stay calm when playing or petting, and give him some time to himself every now and then.
It’s also important to train the dog, as well. You can find obedience classes near you or simply look up some tips online on how best to train him to sit, stay, and do many other tasks and tricks.
Give positive reinforcement
When your pet successfully sleeps through the night, enters the kennel without complaint, goes potty outside or in a litter box, or performs a task, reward him with positive reinforcement. Give a treat, show him some love, and be vocal about how proud you are of him. This can really help pets remember the right ways to behave in the future.
Remember to stay patient with your new pet– and your children– during the first few weeks. It can be a difficult transition for some pets to move into a new home with lots of new people, so keep things on the calm side and help him stay relaxed, safe, and happy.