Pets can be absolutely wonderful additions to your family. Not only are they adorable friends that will bring you joy every time they enter the room, but they’re also excellent ways to help children learn about restraint, patience, and even mortality (unfortunately, most pets don’t have the same life expectancy as humans do). There are a number of things you need to be aware of when you’re introducing a dog into your family. Observing the right rules and rituals will make your dog’s introduction as happy as possible for both the dog and you. Here’s how to introduce a dog into your family.
Have the right equipment
A dog is, as they say, not just for Christmas. Ensuring your dog isn’t stressed or unhappy when they meet family members is one thing, but you should also have long-term equipment and supplies ready for your dog so they can enjoy their life with you. This includes food, toys, and bedding from an excellent company that loves pets, e.g. Doggie Solutions. By making your dog feel at home, you’ll make sure that they feel like this truly is their home and relax them. What could be better than knowing you’ve made a pet happy?
Pay attention to their diet
Contrary to what most people think, dogs are actually omnivores. Wild wolves eat a mixture of plant and animal food in order to survive, and although today’s domesticated dogs may look like a far cry from their wild cousins, their biology is more similar than you might think. As such, it’s important to make sure your dog is eating a mixture of plant-based food and animal-based food. Tempted though you may be, it’s also important not to feed your dog too many table scraps. This can impact their diet negatively and could lead to malnutrition or health problems in the future.
Make sure your family members respect your dog
If you have small children, it’s imperative that you teach them the importance not only of getting along with your dog, but of respecting the dog too. Respect goes both ways, of course, and if your dog is unnaturally hostile towards one family member or another then some disciplining may be in order (see below). However, it’s far more likely that a human family member won’t know quite how to get along with your dog, so it’s important that you teach younger children how to be respectful and restrained when playing with your new furry friend.
Discipline your dog
Here’s the golden rule: you never, ever, ever need to hurt your dog. If the thought has even crossed your mind, then please do not get a dog; disciplining can and should be done entirely without physical pain. It is, however, still important to make sure your dog is aware of the limits of what they can and should do in the home. You may have personal rules about where dogs can go or what they can do, but the important thing is that you reinforce those rules. Find a non-corporal but firm way to discipline your dog and everyone will get along better.
Understand that your life will change
If you get a dog, your life is going to change. There’s absolutely no way you can avoid this, and if you’re the kind of person who should have a dog, then you’ll probably welcome it. Although you can work hard to make sure your life is as similar as possible to how it was before your new friend came along, the fact is that everything – from how often you can go out to where you can go – will change. Having a dog is not massively dissimilar to having a child; you’ll find certain places much more welcoming than others, and your life at home will change a lot too.
Life with your dog should be smooth and consistent. You need to establish rules and stick to them. I don’t recommend that you stop your dog jumping up on beds or surfaces – it’s probably better to simply prime your house for lots of dog fur – but if that is a rule, make sure you adhere to it regularly, because otherwise your dog will become confused as to what they can and can’t do around the home. If you’re going to train your dog, give them a treat every time they do what you want, and discipline them when they do something you don’t like. Consistency is key.
Respect your dog’s wishes
Your dog is a living creature. It’s not a plaything. If you want to hang out with your dog and they’re just not feeling it, don’t press the issue. You’re providing a loving home to the dog, so it’s important to allow the dog to feel like this truly is a place where they can feel relaxed and like they have their own space. Similarly, if you’ve established a meal time for your dog and they’re just not feeling it, then you need to be okay with that. Don’t force your dog to do anything they might not want to do. Your dog will love you all the more for respecting them.
Socialise your dog
This won’t necessarily apply to all dogs; after all, some pets simply don’t get along well with others of their kind. If your dog is sociable, however, then it’s a good idea to take them out regularly to places like dog parks or social events for dog owners. This will help your dog get used to other dogs and other people, so if you have guests over – especially if they have dogs too – your dog won’t have a problem interacting with them. Again, this should depend entirely on the individual wishes of your dog. As with everything else, don’t press the issue if your dog isn’t up to company.