Home » Preparing Kids for a New Family Dog

Preparing Kids for a New Family Dog

by pm_admin_DbV42A
0 comment

Adopting a new pet, specifically a family dog, is an exciting time for everyone involved. However, it’s essential to remember that this furry addition brings not only joy and companionship but also a significant responsibility.

When children are part of the equation, preparing them adequately for a new pet becomes even more critical. This preparation is a chance to teach children about responsibility, empathy, and care for living beings. Here are some practical ways to prepare your kids for the arrival of a new family dog.

Start With Education

Before bringing a new dog home, spend time educating your kids about dogs and their needs. Depending on the child’s age, this can include discussions about dog behaviors, the breed’s typical characteristics, and basic needs like food, exercise, and affection.

Understand Dog Behavior

Dogs communicate differently than humans. They use body language, vocal sounds, and even certain behaviors to express their feelings. Children need to understand these differences to interpret the dog’s behavior correctly and respond appropriately. Teach your children to interpret essential dog behaviors, such as wagging tails, bared teeth, and growling.

Learn About the Breed

Different dog breeds have different needs and behaviors. It would be beneficial to teach children about the specific breed of your soon-to-be family dog. If you’re adopting a golden retriever, for instance, talk about how they are energetic, loving, and require regular exercise.

Establish Rules and Responsibilities

Bringing a new dog into the home is an excellent opportunity to teach kids about responsibility. However, the key to making this a successful endeavor is setting realistic expectations based on the age and maturity of the child.

Define Responsibilities

Define clear responsibilities for each family member. Older children can be in charge of more physically demanding tasks like walks and basic training.


Younger kids can help with feeding, brushing, and providing clean water. Ensure all tasks are age-appropriate and that the child feels comfortable with them.

Set House Rules

Setting house rules before the dog arrives can prevent misunderstandings and potential problems. Rules might include where the dog is allowed, how to treat the dog, and when and what the dog eats. Ensure that everyone in the family understands and agrees with these rules.

Build Empathy and Respect

Teaching children to empathize with their new pets is crucial for a healthy relationship. Kids should understand that dogs have feelings and needs, just like people.

Emphasizing empathetic interaction with the new family dog is a key way to foster empathy in children. Encourage your children to imagine themselves in the dog’s situation. Ask questions like, “How do you think our dog feels when we leave for school?” or “Why do you think our dog is wagging its tail?” This exercise can help kids to think from the dog’s perspective, fostering a deeper understanding of their pet’s emotions.

Respect the Dog’s Space

Just as humans sometimes need their own space, dogs do too. Teach children that when the dog is in its crate, bed, or a specific area, they should respect this and allow the dog to rest or have alone time. This lesson will be beneficial for the child’s understanding of personal boundaries, which is a vital social skill.

Establishing a designated “safe zone” for the dog, such as a bed or crate, is an essential aspect of respecting a dog’s space. This is the dog’s own retreat, where they can unwind, sleep, or just have some time alone. Children should understand that this area is off-limits for playtime or disturbances when the dog is occupying it. They should see this as the dog’s personal sanctuary.

Understand the Dog’s Perspective

Empathy isn’t just about understanding emotions; it’s also about perspective-taking. Help your child understand that the dog may be scared or anxious, especially when it first comes home. Teach your child to approach the dog calmly and quietly and to handle it gently.

In tandem with helping your child understand the dog’s perspective, it’s crucial to normalize the feelings that a dog may experience, especially when settling into a new environment. It is natural for the dog to feel overwhelmed, nervous, or even display signs of stress.

Explain to your children that just as they might feel uneasy when entering an unfamiliar situation, dogs can feel the same way. Reiterate that it’s a significant change for the dog, and they’ll need time to adjust to their new surroundings, family members, and routines.

Before the Dog Arrives

In the days leading up to the dog’s arrival, it’s essential to make sure everything is ready. You can involve your children in these preparations to get them excited and invested.

Gather Supplies

Taking your child shopping for a new dog can be a fun activity. Let them help choose the dog bed, toys, food, water bowls, and other necessary supplies. This involvement gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility.


As you and your children are choosing supplies, it’s important to consider the dog’s specific needs. For example, puppies will need chew toys to help with teething, while older dogs may require orthopedic beds for added comfort. Likewise, the size and breed of the dog can influence the type of food you buy. Use this shopping trip as an opportunity to educate your children about the different stages of a dog’s life and how their needs change over time.

Prepare the House

Dogs, especially puppies, are curious creatures. They will explore their new environment, which can lead to accidents or damage, before bringing the dog home, puppy-proof your house. Remove anything potentially harmful to the dog or items you don’t want to be chewed on. Kids can help with this task, further enhancing their understanding of the responsibility involved.

In addition to removing potential hazards, consider designating specific areas in your home for the new dog. This can include a sleeping area, a feeding area, and even a designated play area. Having set places for these activities helps establish a routine and a sense of security for your new pet, making their adjustment to a new home smoother. It also helps keep your home organized and prevents potential damage in areas not suited for these activities.

Ensuring a Safe and Secure Environment

It’s not enough to simply prepare your children and home for the new family dog. Equally important is preparing your outdoor environment, especially if you have a yard or a garden where the dog will spend time.

One of the most effective ways to keep your dog safe is to install fencing around your yard. There are many types of fencing available, such as traditional wood, chain-link, or more modern invisible fences that use a collar and underground wire. The type of fencing you choose depends on your budget, aesthetic preferences, and the size and breed of your dog.

If your family opts for a modern approach to containment, training a dog with an invisible smart fence can be an effective solution. Invisible fences work by emitting a warning sound or a safe static correction through the dog’s collar when they approach the boundary. This helps the dog learn where they can and cannot go, even without a physical barrier in sight.

Involving your children in the process of training a dog with an invisible smart fence can not only be an exciting and engaging task for them but also teaches them about advanced pet care technologies. This technology, however, requires patience and consistent training to ensure the dog understands its boundaries.

Beyond Pet Ownership to Life Lessons and Familial Growth

Introducing a new family dog is a thrilling time, but adequate preparation is key to ensure a smooth transition. Teaching your children about dog behavior, responsibilities, empathy, and respect will not only prepare them for the new family member but also provide valuable life lessons.

With proper preparation, your new family dog will not only be a source of joy and companionship but also a tool for teaching your children essential values. Remember, patience, consistency, and love are the three pillars of a healthy, joyful, and respectful relationship between your children and your new family dog.

Related Posts