A new puppy in your family is both a great joy and a big responsibility. It is wonderful to see your canine friend grow, learn and adapt to the world. At the same time, your family will change. There are new chores that must be accomplished every day. There are new schedules that can affect your family’s ability to be spontaneous. As your children care for this new companion, they will learn important life lessons that will help them as they face the world.
Puppies are almost perfectly designed to inspire love and nurturing feelings. When a puppy greets you excitedly with a wagging tail, you cannot help but pay attention. Your children will learn that nurturing a living being requires more than the occasional hug. Showing care can mean playing with the puppy when it is in the mood. It can also mean helping the puppy calm down and relax when it is overexcited. Sometimes, being nurturing means giving the animal its own space and leaving it alone. Children will learn that there is a time for exuberant play, a time for quiet cuddling and time for a peaceful slumber.
Children will also learn that nurturing requires work. A missed walk can mean a mess in the house that must be cleaned. Your puppy needs the right food at the right time. Caring for an animal also requires decisions about what is best for it. Should your puppy get scraps from the table or learn early on that it only eats from its bowl? The decisions you and your family make about such questions will have future impacts on the life and wellbeing of your pet.
The Importance of Practice
In order for a puppy to grow into a well-behaved dog, it’s essential that you train him. Behaviors that your family can tolerate from a baby can become annoying or even dangerous as it grows older. A smaller child can handle a puppy that strains at the leash. However, in a few months, that same animal may be able to break away and run if it never learns to walk properly. Training your puppy to walk on a leash makes walks less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone. When your children participate in the training, the puppy will learn that they are in charge as much as the adults. Basic training requires daily practice. Your dog must learn that a behavior is expected every time a family member gives the command. At the start, these will be basic skills for the dog’s safety such as learning to sit or come to the owner on command. Once these are mastered, your children can teach the puppy new tricks and skills like rolling over or standing on two legs.
Training is a wonderful bonding time between humans and dogs. It is not so much about being in charge of the animal as it is about learning to work as a team. The puppy wants to please its owners and will work hard to do so. Both the puppy and the trainer enjoy the treats, praise, and affection that are part of this task. Your dog gets the reward of praise, and your child gets the reward of seeing the puppy successfully learn a new skill.
When you are bringing a new animal into your home, you and your family have to be organized. This organization must begin before the puppy comes to your house. You want to have all the supplies you need before the new arrival. Work with your child to complete a checklist to ensure you’re prepared for puppies and their needs. This initial planning is also the right time to talk about chores and responsibilities. As fun as it is to have a new dog around, there are also some unpleasant tasks that go with a puppy’s care. You will need to train the puppy to relieve itself outside, and it will take some time before it figures this out. Someone has to clean up the mess. Even when the dog goes outside, you need to clean things up to keep your backyard from becoming a minefield. It is also important that your children learn to pick up after the animal when you go for walks. Your children need to understand that cleaning up after your puppy is part of owning a puppy.
As a family, you also need to consider your new puppy’s needs as you plan your daily schedule. If your child is the first-person home in the afternoon, it will become her responsibility to take the dog out before doing anything else. Someone will also have to see the puppy’s needs first thing in the morning and before bed. Your child may also have to learn to negotiate and share responsibilities. If the child wants to stay at a friend’s house overnight, he needs to make certain that the puppy is cared for. This may mean trading other tasks to get the time off.
Puppies often mimic their owners’ moods. If your child is excited and bouncing off the walls, the puppy will want to get in on the fun. Over time, your child may become irritated at the puppy’s exuberance. She may want the puppy to greet her calmly. This means that she will have to reign herself in and greet the puppy in a calm way. By calming the puppy, she is learning to calm herself down. Your child may also come to realize that it is important to be safe when you are having fun. Puppies are unpredictable and easily distracted. Before your child goes running out to play with the dog, he will learn to check that everything is safe. He will check that gates are properly closed before starting a great game of catch.
When you bring a puppy into your home, it is a time of learning for everyone involved. Your puppy will bring a new sense of joy and adventure to your family. Your children will learn important lessons about love, kindness, and practice. When you take the time to plan ahead, your canine companion will become an indispensable part of your family.
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