If you’re an active parent who loves to have fun with your family, then you might be thinking about getting a dog to join your household.
If so, it’s important to choose the right kind of dog and to think about all the responsibilities that come with having one.
Here are 10 tips that will help you choose the right type of dog and prepare yourself and your family for adding this new furry member to your life.
1) Choose the Right Breed
The right breed of dog will fit into your family’s lifestyle.
If you have young children, choose a gentle breed that can endure rambunctious kids and won’t mind frequent trips to daycare or playdates.
If you work long hours, opt for a dog with low energy needs who will be content at home all day.
And if you live in an apartment, look for a small dog that doesn’t need much space to run around.
You should also think about whether you want a puppy or an adult—and if it matters what age your pup is when he joins your family.
Remember: Dogs grow up fast! By choosing a younger adult dog, you can skip his puppy phase altogether.
Puppies are adorable but they require training, time, and money before they become model canine citizens.
2) Set Boundaries & Enforce Them
Dogs can be great companions—so long as they’re trained properly and well-behaved.
Be sure to establish clear boundaries early on: Dogs need to learn that when people say no, it means no.
Establishing rules will also help your children understand how to care for their new pets.
For example, if you have young children who are too young to walk a dog or clean up after one.
Make sure you set appropriate expectations from day one so everyone is on board with what needs to get done and when.
This way there won’t be any surprises later down the line!
3) Practice Basic Training
You and your dog will get out of dog ownership what you put into it.
Make sure to practice basic training regularly so that your pooch becomes accustomed to staying within eyesight, coming when called, and other good habits.
All dogs respond differently to different types of training.
So speak with local trainers and check out books on raising dogs before deciding on a curriculum.
It’s important to start early; bad habits will stick as they grow up.
Be patient! This is their first time around humans, after all.
As they learn how to interact with people, though, their behavior will quickly improve.
4) Don’t Be Afraid to Discipline
While dogs are man’s best friend, they’re also children.
And just like your kids, you’ll need to set rules and teach them how to behave.
When your dog misbehaves, discipline him quickly and consistently so he learns what behavior is acceptable in your home.
Be sure that everyone in your family is on board with these rules so they can help reinforce them with their pets.
Dogs are social creatures, so be sure to spend time with yours daily—walk it, play fetch or Frisbee, or just hang out together.
This will not only strengthen your bond but will provide both of you with some much-needed exercise.
If you don’t have time to walk your dog every day, consider hiring a pet sitter who can take care of it while you’re at work.
Just make sure that person has experience with dogs if you have an especially energetic breed!
5) Schedule Time for Exercise
Exercise is more important than most people realize. But busy schedules can make it hard to fit in regular workouts.
One solution is to schedule specific times to work out.
Whether you do something as simple as taking your dog for a walk after dinner or as involved as running laps around your neighborhood.
Having scheduled workout time every day will help you become healthier and feel better about yourself.
Even if you’re too tired to go for a run one night, making plans with friends to meet at your local track or gym at a certain time will encourage you to go.
And if there are no friends available? Don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands.
You can always try some of these exercises from home.
6) Train Your Dog
One of your first priorities as a dog owner is to make sure your pooch is well-trained.
A trained dog is not only easier to live with, but it’s also more likely to be accepted by friends and family who visit your home.
If you have children or plan on having them in the future.
Remember that training dogs early will make their lives much easier when they eventually bring home Fluffy or Spot.
Teach him how to walk properly on a leash and how to sit, stay, lie down and roll over at your command.
You can teach him these things using treats or verbal commands—or both!
Remember: Dogs learn through repetition so don’t get frustrated if he doesn’t learn right away.
7) Know when it’s time to seek professional help
If your dog is threatening your children or you’re feeling like your pet is taking over, it might be time to seek professional help.
A behaviorist can help you understand and resolve any issues that may arise.
It’s also important to consult with professionals if you have more than one dog in your home.
Each pup needs individual attention and having multiple dogs vying for affection can cause problems within a family unit.
Before bringing a dog into your home, make sure everyone involved understands their role and responsibilities.
And remember: No matter how well-behaved they are, dogs are still animals—and they will act on instinct sometimes.
Be prepared for accidents, messes, and occasional destruction!
You should never leave young children alone with pets; even older kids need supervision when interacting with animals.
8) Keep Kids Safe Around Dogs
Whether your family is getting a new dog or you already have one.
There are important things to keep in mind when it comes to kids and dogs.
Check out these 10 tips to keep your kids safe from any accidents around dogs
- Teach children that they should never approach an unfamiliar dog without an adult present.
- Make sure children know not to pet a dog without asking permission first—and make sure they know how to ask permission!
- Encourage children not to take food from strangers—or strange dogs!
- Tell children not to play with toys near dogs—especially if those toys belong only to them!
- Remind children that even if a dog looks friendly, he may still bite.
- If a child is bitten by a dog, he should immediately tell an adult what happened and where it happened so someone can help him (the bite wound needs medical attention).
- Let children know not to run away from dogs because running makes them look like prey; instead, teach them to stand still or walk slowly away from approaching dogs
- Explain to children that if a dog ever tries to attack them, they should yell No! and then either kick at his nose or punch him in his snout
- Explain to children that all dogs may try to lick their face, but some dogs carry diseases on their tongues; remind them not to let a dog lick their face unless Mommy or Daddy says it’s okay
- Make sure children know not to tease dogs—or people who own dogs! A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t do something to a person, don’t do it to a dog.
9) Prepare Your Home
Your pet will be living in your home, so it’s important to be prepared.
Make sure you have adequate space and resources, such as food and toys, before getting your dog.
You should also make sure all members of your family are on board with having a new dog.
Dogs require lots of care and attention; they can interfere with your ability to sleep or keep up with work and school obligations.
Be sure everyone is ready to take on that responsibility before bringing home Fido!
If you plan to adopt from a shelter, think about visiting beforehand.
That way, you can see how your dog interacts with other animals and children (if there are any at the shelter).
As with any adoption process, make sure you ask questions about what type of activities he enjoys and if he’s housetrained.
This will give you an idea of whether he’ll fit into your lifestyle.
10) Stay Patient and Consistent
When you get a new dog, it can be tempting to do everything you can to show your affection—and that’s understandable.
But unless you want your pup to think of you as its own personal chew toy, it’s important to take things slow and gentle.
As with all relationships, consistency is key in raising a well-behaved dog.
Provide daily exercise and early socialization opportunities, but try not to overfeed or give in to all your pet’s demands.
It may seem counterintuitive, but going overboard on attention and love will only lead to bigger problems down the road.