Bonding with a new dog is incredibly rewarding, but—as with anything with kids and animals—sometimes things don’t always go to plan.
From excited and overzealous pups, to kids who just want to pet the puppy all the time, getting everyone on the same page can be a bit of a mission!
If you’re looking for some ideas for you and the kids to bond with your new furry friend, go shopping together for some pet accessories, then take them out for these fun activities that are perfect for kids and pups.
Teach them new tricks
Before getting you and your kids involved in teaching new tricks, try and figure out what motivates your dog. Breeds like labradors, beagles, pugs, golden retrievers and dachshunds are all very food-motivated breeds. We’re talking instant and undivided attention (and perhaps some excessive wagging around the tail-end). Keep a quality pet treat holder in your car or in the house to easily recall from distraction.
It’s always a good idea to start with simple commands, like sit, stay and drop, which are good behavioural traits to know. Loop the kids in to help you teach these commands, as being part of a family unit is always important to pups—especially as this shows them the pecking order!
Once you’ve built up your bond, you can start to increase the difficulty of the tricks. For instance, you and the kids can teach dogs to open and close doors, high-five, fetch items, play soccer, speak on command, pose for a photo… the options are limited only by the kids’ creative imaginations!
If you find your pup isn’t responding as well to trick training or treats, ensure you have a distraction-free area, they don’t have too much energy to burn off (excitable pups are cute, but it makes for a tiresome training experience) and you’re using a treat that appeals to them.
Take them to an obstacle course
A fun activity to help create a bond between your dog and family is taking a trip to your local dog obstacle course or dog park.
Now, not all dogs will love flying around an obstacle course as much as your kids. However, if you have a terrier, collie, kelpie, spaniel, husky, Dalmatian or other excitable breed, you likely have a good agility course runner on your hands.
To test out if your dog will like obstacle courses, try creating a few small challenges at home. Tunnels, weaving around poles and running up ramps are all easy to create tasks to test with your dog. Get the kids to help you build the course to make it a fun family activity.
Head to the ocean
Swimming is as good for pups as it is for us. It’s not only great exercise, but it helps keep joints mobile, cools the body and can help strengthen our vital organs too.
Going for a swim is also a great activity to do with the kids and pets together to enjoy themselves and form stronger connections with each other. Whether it’s a trip to the beach, lake or a swimming pool, your dog and family will love splashing about together.
If your pooch is a little hesitant to have a paddle, try throwing a floating toy or stick in the water for them to fetch. However, some dogs simply don’t like swimming, and would prefer to bask in the sun or watch from the edge—if this is the case, don’t force it. Let them enjoy the moment with a dry coat (they’re probably due for a bath soon anyway)!
A camping trip is a great way to spend time with the family and your pets on holiday. It’s no secret dogs love sniffing out new scents while exploring hiking trails and nature clearings. They’ll be following their nose everywhere on bush walks, beach walks, going swimming, meeting other people and dogs, and generally just enjoying the fresh air.
Just make sure you’ve researched the best pet friendly travel hotspots, and your pooch is up to date on all their vaccinations and parasite treatments. Remember, they’ll be getting into everything!
Just brought a new pup home? It’s completely normal for them to be a little nervous at first. Simply keep calm, stay patient and show your new family member day by day they are in a loving, safe environment. While some puppies or dogs may take instantly to their new home and family, it’s important to remember that every pet is different and may take a little bit more time than others.
Keep in mind, all good things take time. So, if your new pup is taking time to bond with you or your family, give them continued love, affection and respectful space for them to eventually close the gap themselves. Once that happens, you and the kids have a friend for life!