Whether it’s a tiny goldfish or a golden retriever puppy guaranteed to multiply in size and weight, your household dynamics are about to change. Your new pet will need to adjust to her new home, and your kids may have to do some adapting, too. Our six tips for introducing a new pet to your family will help to smooth the transition.
1. If you’re bringing home a dog or a cat, there’s no cage or aquarium separating your new family member from your young children. Keep a close eye on both your kids and your new pet for several days, to make sure neither of them is exhibiting aggressive behavior, or is becoming agitated by the energy of their new “sibling”.
2. Give everyone some alone time. Your new puppy may feel the need to retire to his crate after a long afternoon of playing and snuggling. Your new kitten might need a little quiet time in a bedroom on a soft blanket if she seems overwhelmed. Even your kids might need a little bit of peace and quiet. The excitement of a new pet may exhaust their energies!
3. Let your new pet engage with your children, and not the other way around. A new kitten may take her time exploring and sniffing her new home, and may not feel ready for the fun and energy of playing with children until she feels settled in.
4. Ask your kids for their help. Feeding fish or guinea pigs can be an easy chore for young children to complete, as long as you make sure that they understand the correct feeding amounts. Likewise, feeding dogs and cats will allow those animals to look at your children as their caretakers, and will help to build trust. Invite your kids to walk your new dog with you, learn how to hold the leash, how to clean up after the dog, and eventually how to keep an excited dog under control when out and about.
5. Allow everyone in your household to be a trainer. If you’ve adopted a new puppy and are training him, be sure to give your kids a chance to teach the simple commands and boundaries that your dog will be learning.
6. Remind everyone to be patient. Is the new kitten more comfortable hiding under your bed for now? Is the new puppy tired after just an hour of play? Your pets will grow accustomed to their new home and new family, and your kids will learn to accept the limits of their new pets in no time.
When the initial transition is smooth, you’ll find that your child and your new pet will develop a bond that will last for years. Foster patience and respect between them now for the friendship of a lifetime!