Congratulations It’s a . . . DOG!!!!0
You are a new dog owner, now what?!
We had been considering getting a family pet for many months. I researched the pros and cons of dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, hamsters and even chickens. We knew we wanted a pet that was relatively low maintenance, good with children and a companion for our family. We decided a dog fit all of these traits, and the perfect opportunity arose to adopt a Miniature Pinscher/Chihuahua pup into our family!
While some dogs may be considered low maintenance and easy to care for, PUPPIES definitely are NOT! Puppies take patience, time and lots of training; add small children into the mix and you could have a recipe for disaster! I quickly learned that just like raising children, there are many different opinions on raising a dog. There are many things to decide (and agree upon) when incorporating a dog into your family. Where will the dog sleep? Will the dog be allowed on furniture? Will the dog live primarily outside or inside? Who will train the dog? Who is responsible for taking the dog for walks? What responsibilities will the children have in regards to the dog?
We are an on-the-go family and neither my husband nor I grew up with dogs, so this was a whole new learning curve for us! We decided that crate training would be best for our family, which kept our little furry riend out of trouble when we weren’t home. The first rule the girls quickly learned was that whoever takes the dog out of her crate, takes her out to potty. This is great for teaching them responsibility! We also felt that giving the dog a crate eliminated the fight of WHO the dog would sleep with, because in our house sharing is extremely difficult! The first month of having our puppy, we learned that we not only needed to train the dog, but also our children. Our children had to learn not to feed the puppy human food, to be patient when we took her out to potty and how to handle and treat the puppy with kindness. There were constant learning opportunities. We quickly learned that the key is consistency, with both dog training and child training!
So if you are contemplating adding a dog to your family, my advice would be to do your research and make sure you are ready for a new responsibility. Sit down with your spouse and children before bringing the pup home and establish rules that everyone must follow. Assign clear, reasonable responsibilities to your child. Depending the ages of your children these could be simple tasks, like making sure the dog has water to more elaborate tasks like taking the dog for a walk. I also recommend that you make friends with your local pet store owner. Matt, from Valley Pets, has given us a wealth of information about bathing, feeding, training, playing and caring for our dog. Lastly, be consistent and most of all BE PATIENT!
We have definitely made mistakes along the way, but adding a dog to our family has been an entertaining, exciting and heart-warming experience for the WHOLE family!
[AUTHOR: Misty Sedehi]