It’s been said that a family isn’t complete without a dog. While families can take different shapes and sizes, it’s true that a dog adds something special to the home. You and your children can enjoy a furry friend who is loyal, cuddly, and playful.
However, before you introduce any pet to your family, you need to be prepared to look after them and work around their needs. This is especially true of dogs, as they are social and active animals that need a lot of attention.
Not everyone is able to take on the responsibility of a dog. This is why it’s not always a good idea to get a dog on a whim or as a surprise gift for someone who is completely unprepared for it.
So, how can you make sure that your family is ready for its newest, fluffiest family member?
The first step is to determine whether a dog is a good fit for your family. This is something that involves all members of the family, so consider your children as they grow up. If it’s appropriate, ask the children what they think, but be aware that younger children might take this as a promise.
There are plenty of great reasons to get a dog. First, they are good for children and can boost their immune system. Dogs, especially active breeds, can also play with your children and encourage them to be more active. They are fantastic companions, and there’s nothing better than a doggy hug when you’re feeling down.
Dogs can also be a good way to teach your children how to be responsible, but you shouldn’t leave the whole care of a family dog to your children. Remember that your dog is a living animal who deserves to be looked after appropriately. If your children aren’t up to the task of feeding, training, walking, grooming, and cleaning up after the dog, it’s up to the parents to make sure the dog isn’t being neglected.
Speaking of the tasks involved in looking after a dog, we come to the largest downside. Dogs need a lot of care and attention. They can also be expensive, because as well as the initial cost of getting a dog, you need to consider their food (Top tip: barley is great for dogs, so a high-quality food containing barely is ideal), vet bills, toys, and other potential expenses that can crop up.
Some dogs also struggle with being left alone for long periods. This means that, if you work and everyone in the household is busy all day, the dog may suffer. You can work around this by arranging doggy daycare or finding other options to keep your dog busy and cared for when you aren’t around, but it’s yet another expense.
The next step is to decide what dog to get. Some people love the idea of getting a puppy. The good thing about getting a puppy, especially if it's a specific breed, is that you have a good idea of what kind of dog it will grow up into. Different breeds have different temperaments. If you go down this route, choose a trusted breeder like Lucky Labs that are proven to look after their dogs.
You do need to bear in mind that puppies require more work than adult dogs. You need to train them yourself, and puppies can be destructive. Also, if you get a larger breed like a labrador, remember that the puppy will grow. Your lab puppy might be small and cute now, but it will be large and cute before long.
Another option is to get an adult dog from a shelter. Some shelter dogs aren’t great with children, but there are plenty of dogs who are perfect for families and are already trained. While some abandoned dogs need special care and may be traumatized, many are simply dogs who have lost their owners and would love a new home.
If you go down this route, introduce your family to the shelter dog and consider fostering or spending time with them in the shelter before you take them home. Talk to the shelter staff about their needs.
Before you bring your new furry friend home, you need to make sure your home is ready. This is especially important if you’re getting a puppy.
Puppies love to explore, and they especially love to explore with their mouths. If you care about your items, keep them away from your pup. You can use stair gates and other barriers to control your puppy’s movements and keep them away from more dangerous areas.
If you have some outdoor space for your dog, fantastic. You do need to make sure that you don’t have any hazards that could hurt your dog, and if you do, that you keep your dog away from them. This includes toxic plants or water features. If you don’t have a backyard, find a nearby park or green area to walk and exercise your dog.
You also need to feed your dog. Not every dog food is created equally, so find the best dog food for your dog’s needs and that’s in your budget.
Get your dog registered with the local vet and get their health checked right away. Breeders and shelters should check and vaccinate your dogs before you get them, but it’s a good idea to get them looked at anyway.
You also need to plan a training routine. Even adult dogs might need some training to ensure that they are safe and can fit in with the family. But with puppies, you’re largely starting from scratch. You at least need to house-train them and give them basic obedience training.
Finally, get them equipped with all the necessary little extras. This includes cozy dog beds, crates, dog toys, grooming tools, toys, leashes and collars or harnesses, and anything else you think your dog will need to be happy and healthy.
Once they’re settled in, you can enjoy your new family setup.