For many homes, pets are extended parts of the family with their own toys, beds and clothes. But making the decision to introduce a new pet into your home can be a daunting one, especially when it involves kids. There are many great things and teachable moments about having a new pet but many people, mostly your kids, don’t realize the amount of work that will go into raising a well-trained, member of the family.
Whether it be training, responsibilities, animal-related chores or other tasks that come along with a new pet, your family will need to be prepared for what comes along with the joys of having a family pet.
Have the Talk
Before making the decision to bring a new pet into the house, sit down with the entire family to discuss what having a new pet will entail. Make it clear that everyone will have responsibilities and be accountable for the safety and well-being of the animal. You’ll also want to decide how big an animal your family can handle, if your house and yard are prepared for an animal and what breed of animal suits your family best. According to Care.com, it is important to consider many things before choosing a pet, including how much time and money you can dedicate to the pet. Just as you wouldn’t want a large dog in a small apartment with no yard, you also wouldn’t want a pet with health problems if you aren’t financially able to pay for a vet.
When choosing the breed, make sure to take into account animal temperament and family allergies among other things. Some dogs, like Miniature Schnauzers and Spanish Water Dogs, are hypoallergenic breeds that can help to alleviate some people’s allergies, according to DogBreedInfo.com. Of course, everyone’s allergies are different so check with your family physician about your choice to get an animal.
Create a Responsibility Chart
Once your entire family is on board and understands what comes along with getting a new pet, you’ll want to establish a chart of responsibilities which will explain who is in charge of what task and when, according to the Humane Society. Some jobs to include are feeding, bathing, walking and training. Consider creating a rotating chart so that everyone has a new job each month. This will not only keep it exciting and fresh each month, but will prepare your kids to care for their own pets as they get older.
Don’t forget that your family will have to relinquish some personal time to care for the animal so choose wisely. If your family is willing to spend an hour outdoors each day training and walk a dog, you may want to consider a larger breed like Doberman. If your family is often busy and can’t devote as much time to caring for an animal, you may want to consider a more self-reliant animal like a cat or fish.
“Crate training has been proven to be the fasted and most effective way to housebreak a puppy”, says Cheri Lucas of CesarsWay.com. Because your new pet’s instinct is to avoid being near its own waste, they’ll make every attempt to not soil their crate. When choosing a crate you’ll want to pick one that is large enough for your pet to stand up, turn and stretch out. If your pet is expected to grow large, purchase a crate with a moveable wall that can be pushed back as your pet gets older. Think of the crate as your pet’s home where they can relax and sleep at night.
The most important part of training is consistency. Discuss with the family what the new pet is and is not allowed to do and act like. And make sure that when the animal makes a mistake, you quickly call the attention of the animal to the mistake and sternly say “No!”. Your animal will quickly learn that what they’ve done is wrong and unacceptable. As long as you remain consistent in what the animal is and is not allowed to do your new pet will learn quickly.
Introducing a new pet into the home is a family affair. Although it can be hectic and exciting at the beginning make sure the entire family is onboard and ready for a new household member. Just like people, your new pet will seek approval and love from you and want to spend as much time with your family as possible.
Don’t forget to check out our Pet Guide for all of the best pet products and information at www.TBParenting.com/pet.