Match Made in Heaven: Successfully Add a Dog To Your Family

October 1, 2014
Sydney and the boys

Nephews Griffin and Riley clown around with my dog Sydney, an Australian Shepherd-Corgi mix.

This is guest by Sara from…take it away Sara!

For years my young nephews lobbied my sister for a puppy.

With a full-time job and two small boys she was justifiably hesitant about adding a new family member.

Eventually, the boys got bigger and their constant pleas won out. But before she made that decision, my sister and her husband considered a few factors:

  1. How did the boys react to dogs? Unlike some children, neither was afraid of dogs. Both enjoyed being around them. They didn’t pull ears or tails. They knew that when a dog was eating or sleeping that it was time to leave them alone.
  2. Why did they want a dog? Riley and Griffin wanted a companion and convinced their parents they were ready to and willing to help care for one. They eventually got a puppy. One of my other nephews lobbied his parents for both a new baby and a dog because he wanted his family to be bigger than a classmate’s family. He didn’t get a puppy.
  3. Do your homework. Before adding a dog, study up on what breed will best mesh with your family’s lifestyle. If they are old enough, get your children involved in the project. Take the time to visit animal shelters to see how your children react.

Once you bring your new puppy home, the fun – and work – begins.

First you and your family get to pick a name for your new furry pal. Five-year-old Griffin wanted to name their new puppy “Fluffy Paws,” while older brother Riley, 8, wanted to name him “Walter” after Chicago Bears football star Walter Payton.

In the end, the puppy was named Ollie for the green ribbon tied around his neck.

Then you need to set rules for both your child and your dog and you need to enforce them.

Some examples of dog rules:

  1. Your dog needs to obey everyone on two feet. Start by attending a structured obedience class as a family. Make sure the kids also spend time working to train the dog to follow simple commands such as sit, down, stay and come.
  2. Good behavior. No nipping, growling or biting.
  3. Exuberant behavior – running, jumping, chasing – is for outside only. Inside is good for snuggling. If your child is old enough to read out loud, a dog can make a good reading buddy.

Some examples of kid rules:

  1. Respect the dog. The dog is not a toy. Leave dogs alone when they are eating or sleeping.
  2. Be gentle. The dog feels pain and should not be hurt – NO pinching, kicking or ear/tail pulling.
  3. Pick up. Don’t leave kid food or toys were it’s easy for the dog to grab. Prevent trouble and bad habits before they start. We had tears once when my nephew Oskar visited and left a plastic toy giraffe on the floor and my dog chewed off one of its ears. It wasn’t her fault. In our house, toys on the floor were hers.

Most important, as a parent, it’s your job to supervise, supervise, supervise. Don’t leave your children and dog unsupervised until you’re sure they will be safe together. Even then, check on them often.

With some time, work, patience and little good luck, a dog can be your child’s best friend. It’s your job to make sure this match is a successful one for both child and dog.

By Sara B. Hansen
Editor @

Kaitlin Gardner

About the Author

Kaitlin Gardner

Kaitlin Gardner currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking , hand with her family and friend and enjoy nature.

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