Earlier last year, my husband and I decided that our kids were ready for a pet. Not quite sure if I fully believed it at the time, but after bringing our pup, Cosmo, home, I know we made the right decision. The kids love coming home to their furry friend after a day at school and have surprisingly picked up some of the responsibilities that come with a dog! (We’ve only had him for a few months though, so we’ll see if that lasts.)
But I didn’t make this decision lightly. Actually, to say that I had to be convinced is an understatement. My husband has been asking us to get a dog for years, even before the kids were born. Dogs are SO much work. (More on this later.) But now that the kids are a bit older, 7&8, we make big decisions as a family and I got outvoted on this one.
However, prior to getting the dog, I educated my kids on a few things that they need to know about having a canine in the house. Here are 3 of the things that I told them.
1: Be Aware of a Dog’s Body Language
Even though dogs are a man’s best friend, we’ve all heard those horror stories about dog bites and dog-inflicted injuries. (Yes, I even read dog bite injury statistics to find out how often they occur. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but dogs bite children the most!) Many of these injuries happen when a person misreads a dog’s body language. Most of the time, canines don’t bite or attack unless they are provoked, scared, or threatened.
If a dog is making themselves look bigger or smaller, it is not unlikely that they are not in a good mood. Pups often make their bodies larger when they believe they are being threatened and feeling aggressive.
They could make their bodies look smaller if they are feeling anxious or scared. Instruct your kids not to cornered a scared dog. They could potentially lurch at the person who tries to comfort them or hold them. Tell your kids not to approach your dog when either of these situations is happening and tell them to alert you right away.
2: Never Put, Take, or Tug ANYTHING Out of a Dog’s Mouth
Okay, I know this one sounds a bit weird, but I am super adamant about this in my house. My kids are still fairly young and small. I told them that they are never allowed to play tug-o-war with Cosmo or take anything out of his mouth. I know that tug-o-war is a pretty typical game to play with your dog, but I also feel like it could be very dangerous and result in injuries. I feel like you can never predict how they will react when you pull too hard or take something out of their mouth that they are currently obsessed with. I know that the dog probably thinks that you are just playing with them, but I feel like my kids could be hurt during their playful aggression.
3: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Let’s be honest, having a dog is a luxury. They are not cheap pets to have and require a ton of work! I was always hesitant to get a dog because I knew that it would change my lifestyle. This is something that I heavily expressed to my kids, too. I told them that in order to get a puppy we’d need to work as a team and that everyone had to play their own role.
So far it’s been pretty smooth sailing! They will clean up after the dog in the evenings and make sure that all the toys are put away. We encourage them to go on our daily walks with the dog so that they can get outside and get away from the TV. It’s honestly been a welcomed change, one that I hope will continue to influence our family in the right way.