Bringing home a new pet is an exhilarating time for the family. However, it’s also a big commitment and adjustment for everyone involved. In other words, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.

If your family has decided that it’s ready for a new canine companion, keep these considerations in mind when preparing your home.

Choose the Right Breed

While there’s no need to resort to breed shaming, it’s true that there are some breeds that are better for families and specific situations. When choosing the right breed for your family, it might have less to do with the breed and more to do with your lifestyle. 

Here are some key considerations:

  • How big is your home? Do you have a yard or a small apartment? Are you close to parks or in a very urban area?
  • What’s your tolerance for barking? Some dogs bark more than others.
  • How active are you? What’s your schedule like? Some high-energy dogs require a lot of outside time. Others prefer to laze around and relax.
  • Do you have other pets? What type? 
  • How much time can you devote to maintenance – i.e., brushing and grooming? Long-haired dogs will need a lot more attention than short-haired breeds.
  • What climate do you live in?
  • Do you plan on traveling, either with or without your pet?
  • How old are your kids? A larger breed could be a little clumsy around small children, while smaller breeds might be more at risk when playing.

Some breeds are more family-friendly than others based on their needs and temperament. However, your dog’s personality will also play a role. When you apply to adopt a dog, be clear about your family’s needs and situation. 

Choose the Right Age

Another important decision to make when bringing home a dog is whether you want a puppy or an older dog. Many families tend to gravitate toward puppies, but there are pros and cons to each. 

With a puppy, you bear the onus of all the training. On the one hand, this gives you control over how well-trained your dog is as they grow. On the other, this means late nights and frequent trips outside until your pet gets used to the new routine. 

With an older dog, house training is often already handled. However, you get fewer years with an older dog and might not be able to instill any new habits. On the plus side, as puppies are so desirable, adopting an older dog is usually quicker and more socially responsible.

Outline Rules and Responsibilities

Before bringing your new pet home, schedule a family meeting to ensure that everyone is clear on the roles and responsibilities associated with caring for your new pet. Adopting a dog is a great way to teach kids of all ages some responsibility. 

Young children can be responsible for ensuring there’s clean water available each day. Older kids can be responsible for feeding or taking the dog for a quick walk each day. 

It’s also worth ensuring that everyone is on the same page about the rules in the house. Are there areas where the dog won’t be allowed? When are treats to be given? What’s the rule about table scraps? Outlining all of these things can help smooth the transition.

Gather Everything You Need

Before you welcome your dog home, be sure that you have everything you need. Some important things to add to the list include:

  • A crate
  • A dog bed
  • Dishes
  • Gates or barriers
  • Food
  • Grooming tools

You might also want to get a new dog toy, designed by Pet Life to help welcome your new pet home. Having toys available can assist with training and introductions.

Plan Your Introductions

Introducing the new dog to your household can be an overwhelming experience. The goal is to maintain a calm environment and let the dog make the first move. 

When introducing your new family member to the kids, remind them of the importance of being calm and gentle. If they forget— which is natural— use gentle reminders to reinforce the behavior. Make the introduction somewhere safe where your pet has lots of space. 

If you have other animals, you’ll need to map out those introductions as well. Create a calm environment and be mindful of body language. Keep the first introduction short, and give your pet room to retreat. Your pets might hit it off on the first meeting, or it could take time for them to find the right balance with one another. 

Make a Training Plan

Take some time to research different approaches to training, and choose one that works for you. When you welcome a new pet to your home, it can be helpful to take a few days off to help with the transition. Outline a schedule, how you’ll discipline your pet, and how you’ll reward them for cooperating.

After a while, you might decide that your pet would benefit from obedience classes. It’s well worth the investment if you’re struggling with training on your own. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help!

Create Safe Spaces

One of the smartest things you can do when introducing a new dog is to create safe spaces to retreat. This is an important consideration for both the people and animals in your household.

Not ready for all the planning just yet and simply wondering if a dog is right for your family? Check out these five questions to ask yourself before buying a family dog.