There are many reasons that people decide to add a new dog to their home. In our home it was because we felt Nick needed a dog. He was starting to become afraid of dogs since he wasn’t around too many and the only one he was around for any length of time was my cousin’s lab puppy that had a boundless amount of energy. Needless to say Nick wasn’t too fond of a dog that was big enough to push him over and who stole his toys.
We got our new dog back in December and she sort of fell into our lives. My mother happened to mention to a friend of hers that breeds Shelties that if they ever had one in need of a home we’d take it as we were thinking of getting a dog for Nick. Little did she know that they actually had one at the time that needed a new home. At the time this conversation took place Scout was going into heat so it wasn’t the right time for us to get her, so that gave us time to prepare Nick for having a new dog join our family. By the time our sweet girl joined us a few weeks later Nick was not only ready to meet her, but he was beyond excited.
How to Prepare Your Child for a New Dog
There are many steps that you can take to help prepare your child for a new dog. These might not all work for you, or you may find that you need to modify some of them. The reason for this being that every pet adoption situation is different. Any ways that you can prepare your child for a new dog are good. For the most part there really isn’t any right or wrong way though.
Tip #1 – Show you child pictures of the new dog and talk about it
One of the best things we did to help prepare Nick for Scouts arrival was to show him pictures of her and talk about her with him. Looking at the picture we would discuss things about her like her size. We wanted Nick to understand that she wasn’t a terribly large dog so she wouldn’t be the type to come up to him and practically push him over. We wanted to calm any fears he could have about her ahead of time. By being able to see what she looked like Nick was also able to start making a connection with her. We would see someone out walking their dog and we could compare that dog to what our dog would look like. Nick warmed up to the thought of getting a new dog fairly quickly from this. He started telling everyone about his new dog and when he’d see other dogs he started talking about his dog and imagining he was the one walking the dog which often lead to discussions about what else we would do with our dog.
Now this is one of those tips that you might need to adjust. We knew the dog we were getting, so that made this step a lot easier. If you’re planning to go to the shelter and pick a random dog out then you won’t have a specific picture to show your child. If you have a certain breed of dog in mind that you want then show you child pictures of that breed. You might not know the type you want exactly, but you might have an idea of the size of dog you want (for example I prefer dogs on the medium/small size) so show you child pictures of dog that are around the size you’re thinking of.
Tip #2 – Let your child help pick out the new dog
Now this is a step that we weren’t able to take since we didn’t choose our dog, but if you’re picking your dog from a litter of puppies or you’re picking a dog out at the shelter then let you child help! There are a few good reasons to do this. First it allows your child to create a connection with the dog. Plus, it will give them a feeling of importance when their opinion on the choice is considered. The other really good reason to involve your child in choosing out your new dog is you can get an idea for how the dog will be with your child. This is especially important for dogs you might get from a shelter. No one wants to get attached to a dog that isn’t a good fit for the family.
Tip #3 – Let your child help choose a name
Here’s another step that we didn’t do since we didn’t feel right renaming a dog that was already 5 years old, but kids love being involved with choosing a name for their new dog. Interestingly enough I have a very fuzzy memory of choosing the name for the dog I got at three and a half. In fact it’s probably the oldest memory I have. Obviously naming my dog was something very important to me. You don’t have to let your child have total control of this, but you can give them some choices that you like to choose from. Helping pick the name will once again help create that bond and connection.
Tip #4 – Let your child help with preparations
Nick absolutely loved helping pick out the items we needed for Scout. We let him pick which toys to get her (turns out she’s not much into toys, but she did like a soft and squeaky indoor ball we got her), and he really loved picking out which tag design to get for her. Of course watching the machine make her tag was a highlight for him all on its own. Nick felt so special making all of the choices on what we should buy for Scout.
By the time the big day came for Scout to join our family Nick was beyond excited to meet her. My little boy who had become scared of dogs wasn’t scared to meet his new dog at all. Now what we weren’t prepared for was Scout being terrified of Nick, but it all worked out in the end because they were able to adjust to each other together. We couldn’t be happier about the outcome of getting Scout either. Nick is no longer afraid when he’s sees dogs. Our sweet girl has served her purpose well there, and the two of them are so cute together. Scout now sees Nick as her play buddy and her excitement when he wakes up every day is hysterical. She jumps around and barks like crazy and Nick doesn’t even bat an eye. He was well prepared for the arrival of his new dog and we couldn’t be happier.
Tip #5 – Give them time to get to know each other
This is kind of a bonus tip since it’s for after the new dog has joined your family. Once we got Scout we found it essential to give Nick time to spend with her. This was especially important since she kept running away from him. To do this we went for a lot of car rides. That wasn’t too tough since it was Christmas time. We kept going for rides at night to look at the Christmas lights. Scout sat on the back seat of the car next to Nick’s car seat. During our rides Nick would pet her and tell her what a good girl she was. If she did something like lay down he would tell us. This ended up being such an important time for forming the bond they now share.
Adding a new dog to your family can be such an exciting time, but it can cause some fear and anxiety in kids that aren’t used to having a dog. These tips are a great starting point in preparing your child for the new addition.