Adding a New Pet to Your Family
Rover.com is the nation’s largest online network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers. It is available via web, as well as Android and iOS app.
Pets are wonderful additions to the family, especially if you have kids. Out of all the animals, dogs require the most daily care and maintenance, but they also add unconditional love and loyalty, and teach children about commitment and responsibility. With that in mind, if you decide to get a dog, you must remember that you’ll be the main caregiver, even if your kids are involved in taking care of it. There are a few preparations to make in order to ensure your kids know what to expect and how to act around an animal.
Take your children to dog parks in advance of getting a dog. That way, they’ll learn how to approach the animal. Some kids are a little uneasy when they’re around a pet for the first time, so this is a good opportunity for them to get to know dogs and learn how to be less fearful. Find a bench a little bit away from where the dogs are and let them come to you. Advise your kid that they should never put their face too close to a dog’s because they may nip if they feel threatened. Encourage your kid to put their hand out to the dog so that they can smell him or her, making sure to advise they lower their hand to avoid getting too close to the dog’s face. Not all dogs like their head pet, so instruct your kid to start with rubbing their back gently, paying attention to the dog’s reaction.
Teach your children pet body language. Dogs show anger and fear just like humans do, but their signs aren’t always easy to read. Pay attention to the position of their tail; when a dog is relaxed, their tail will be in a natural position, and when they are nervous or submissive, they lower their tails. They tuck their tail under if they’re scared, and a vertical tail may mean they are feeling aggressive. If the dog is snaring its teeth and growling at you, step away and give them space. Dogs can get overstimulated, so if they walk away from you in the middle of a tummy rub, don’t chase after them.
As for cats, they’ll hiss at you if they’re scared. If their ears are turned sideways or back, then they are feeling nervous or anxious, so use caution when they are in this position. When their ears are back and flat against their head, that means they are feeling scared and defensive and may lash out in anger or aggression.
Make sure you have an area of your home closed off so you can put the animal there when it gets overstimulated, and be open with your kids about needing to give the dog or cat some space. It’ll take time before the pet feels comfortable in its new home so having areas that’s just for them is a way to ease them into their new space.
Other products you’ll want to buy in advance of your pet arriving:
- Cleaning tools (doggie bags or litter boxes)
- A dog bed or cat condo
- Food and water bowls (metal ones are sturdy and easy to clean)
- Dog or cat food
- Grooming supplies
- Dog or cat toys
- Box of treats
- Dog crate for crate-training
Although it may be a lot of work, having an animal provide unconditional support is worth the energy. As long as you follow these preparations, you’ll have a house full of love.
Written by Greer Grenley, Rover.com community member.