A dog can make a valuable addition to any family. Owning a pet can help children learn responsibility, how to care for something else, love, empathy, understanding and patience. A dog is an especially good pet for families with young children, as the dog will grow with the children and quickly learn to love them back. This can quickly create a meaningful and lasting relationship, and your family dog will probably be your child’s first best friend.

However, introducing any animal into a family home can be difficult and there is a lot to consider. Here are some great tips to help you to make the transition as easily as possible.

Prepare Your Child

It’s important to involve your child with every aspect of buying and choosing a dog. Or at least let them feel like you are. There is a danger that your child could feel jealous of the dog, or worry you are replacing them. Just like they would if you were welcoming a new baby into your home. So, sit them down and talk to them about it. Read about dogs together, look at pictures, watch films and look at the top 1200 pet names to let them help you chose one.

Research

Some dogs are naturally better with children than others. So, if you are considering a rescue or previously owned dog, find out as much about its history as you can. If you are buying a new puppy, research the breed online and ask about its parent’s temperament.

Meet the Dog Alone

When you first go to meet your new dog, do it alone. Go to the dog’s current residence, and spend some time with it. Stroke it, let it smell you. Then, when you are ready, take the dog to meet your child at home.

Take it Slowly

Dogs, especially puppies, are a lot like children in many ways. You may find both the dog and your child are excited, nervous, anxious or frightened. Speak to your child and try to explain to them that it is important that they don’t overwhelm their new friend but instead take everything very slowly. If your child is calm and quiet, the new dog will trust and warm to them much quicker than if they are loud and excitable.

Let Your Child Help

Getting your child involved in looking after your new dog from the beginning will help them both to settle. How much your child can do will depend on their age and level of maturity, but some jobs they could help with include giving treats, feeding, brushing and walking.

Control

At the beginning, especially, it is important that the dog knows you are in control. Set clear boundaries for both your dog and children. This will help them both to feel safe and protected.

Positivity

A positive first meeting and introduction into family life can go a long way to settling the dog and starting to build a loving relationship. So, smile and relax.

Owning a dog can be a wonderful thing for your family. Just make sure you do your research and are prepared for what bringing a dog into your home means, in the same way you would if you were welcoming a new baby.