Bringing a dog into your home is a great way to expand the family. Dogs are loving companions who will always be pleased to see you.
Dogs can also be a great way to teach children about patience and responsibility, as they witness how much time, care, and attention goes into the new family member.
More families than ever are opting to bring home rescue dogs rather than buying a puppy from a breeder. There are a lot of good reasons for this:
- Rescue dogs will have had a complete health check-up, so you will know their condition before you bring them home. Unfortunately, you can’t always say the same for puppies from a breeder.
- The rescue center will usually have trained your new pup, which will make life way easier for you.
- You will know about any behavioral quirks in advance, so you can decide if the dog fits your lifestyle and your family.
- Every time you go through dog adoption, you are potentially saving their life.
- Adopting dogs takes business away from unscrupulous breeders who don’t treat their animals well and even hurt them.
- Dog adoption is a great example to set for your kids regarding animal rights!
That being said, as with bringing any animal into your home, it’s essential to be careful when introducing your new dog to your children. Your dog may be frightened because of the transition, which can lead them to become reactive.
You should do a few things to ensure that your dog and your child become the best of friends.
Before introducing your child to the dog, keep them on the lead and show them around your home so that they can get their bearings.
If possible, you should create an area with a bed for the dog. Show the dog this area and allow them to retreat to it when they need to.
When introducing your child to a new dog, it’s essential that the dog always feels as though it can escape and never feels trapped. Carry out the introduction in a large room so that the dog can willingly approach the child only when they are ready.
Always approach your dog from the side, as they have a better vision from this angle, and you won’t startle them.
Related: 10 Things New Dog Owners Should Know
2. Educate Your Child on Gentle Petting
Before rescue dogs get to their new home, spend some time teaching your child how to pet your new dog gently. Children can get over-excited and pull a dog’s fur or pet them too hard, hurting them and leading to aggression.
Only allow your child to pet the dog if they have already approached the child and seem comfortable. Begin with gentle petting on the chin or chest, avoiding putting hands over the dog’s face or head.
If the dog seems comfortable, then your child can move on to gently pet the head and back.
3. Avoid Treats to Start with
It can be tempting to approach a new dog with a treat in hand as a way of making friends. However, this can lead to accidental nips.
Dogs can get over-excited if they see treats, which leads to boisterous behavior. Plus, they may snatch the treat from your hands and accidentally catch you with their teeth. If this happens to a child, this could cause a great deal of upset and insecurity to approach them later on.
4. Always Supervise
Although rescue dogs can teach your children a lot about responsibility, it’s important to remember that children can’t take full responsibility for a dog. So you should only get one if you are willing to be the one who walks it, feeds it, and takes care of it.
It’s also crucial that you supervise any interactions between your dog and your child to ensure that your child is gentle with the dog and that the dog doesn’t seem uncomfortable.
Be sure to learn much more about rescued dogs and children before you bring the dog home, this is the best way to ensure that they build a good relationship.
5. Look out for Signs of Fear
When you bring your rescue dog home, particularly when interacting with your child, it’s essential to look out for signs of fear. Fear can quickly turn into aggression, and you must do all that you can to keep your dog feeling safe and happy. After all, they’re part of the family!
Some signs of fear that you should look out for are:
- Tail tucked between their legs. Happy dogs typically have their tails high up, and they will wag it from side to side. If their tail is tucked, it indicates fear.
- Ears back. Usually, you would expect your dog’s ears to face forward or to be in a neutral position. However, if they have put their ears back, this can be a sign of aggression or fear.
- Wide eyes. When dogs’ eyes are wide enough to see the whites at the side, it indicates fear. Being able to see the whites of the eyes is sometimes referred to as whale eye.
- Trembling or shaking
- Yawning. Yawning doesn’t always indicate fear, but sometimes it does. So if your dog is yawning, it’s worth asking yourself if it could be stress-related.
Related: How to Understand Dog Body Language
Dog adoption is undoubtedly one of the best options if you want your family to have a pet. Rescue dogs are not only as worthy as breeder dogs, but sometimes they can be way more grateful and loving because you saved them from abuse and mistreatment. By following our tips you’ll have no problem making both your children and your new pet feel comfortable with each other. In no time they’ll be inseparable!