It happens all the time: the parent gets a pet for the family, ends up taking care of the dog entirely by themselves. The dog in question understands exactly who cares for them and shows what may seem to a kid as favoritism to their parents. As a result, the kids become less interested in the dog, and all those wonderful benefits you heard about having a family dog go out the window.
Dogs respond to and care for those that care for them. While they will love your kids and play with them if you aren’t careful, they will have a clear favorite (you), and your kids won’t get the benefits of having a dog.
Dogs can help kids learn to be responsible. They can help them mentally, physically, and socially as well. Dogs and kids go so well together, but only when the kids are directly involved with the dog. To help ensure that your new pup isn’t yours but the whole family’s pet, use these tips:
Make Your Kids Responsible for the Dog
Everyone needs to help take care of the pup. To make things easier and more consistent for everyone, it could be a good idea to give everyone their own tasks. You can give your oldest the task of walking the dog after school and your younger child the task of feeding the dog their Dr. Marty Nature’s Blend food (or whatever it is they like) for dinner while you take the morning chores. This way, you can keep your kids accountable and really make them a part of raising and caring for the dog.
Another way to help your kids feel responsible is to bring them to the vet with you. Not only will visiting a vet like Orting Animal Hospital for anything from a wellness check to getting your pup neutered help teach your kids more about what it takes to care for someone else, but it will also help your dog feel safer and more comfortable as well.
Get Them on Board with Training
Go over the house rules as a family. Dogs can understand nuance in rules. For example, if you don’t want your dog to go up on your bed, but your son does, that isn’t as complicated a rule for dogs as you think. They know what they can do and what they can’t, and so long as you are consistent, they will know the no-go areas and actions and what they can do. Your whole family has to be on board so that you can set your pup up for success.
To make things fun give let each of your kids choose a “special” trick they want to teach. Find a video online to help them learn how to teach your dog and let them take the lead for that specific trick. This can help teach your child patience and empathy. Not only that, but this is a specific project that can really help your child and your dog bond together individually, as well as a family.
Get Outdoors with Your Family (and Bring Your Dog)
Finally, get outside! Go on big walks with the whole family, go to the (dog-friendly) beach, and get out. There are so many ways you can spend a day outside with the dog so that your whole family benefits and bonds.