If you’ve got toddlers and kiddos in the house and want a dog, there are just a few things to consider to make sure the dog and your kiddos are a good fit.

Let the kids take the lead. Not really, but it’s a good idea to let them feel like they are a HUGE part of the process of adopting the dog so that they buy-in to the new addition in the home, and are prepared to view the dog adoption as a wonderful life-changing event.

Make expectations clear even before the dog is adopted. Watch movies, find dog-care videos, visit friends’ homes who have dogs, and take your kiddos to the local dog park. Let them see the fun interaction dogs can have with humans and each other, and let them see the way dogs are cared for in a home and in a family setting.

Use pictures and charts to help explain the process. The website of the agency from which you are planning to adopt may even have a video on their site, or a downloadable “checklist” or some other guide that explains the adoption process and the expectations of a new dog owner.

Photo by Terricks Noah

Plan on a couple visits to the shelter or adoption center. Unless you absolutely fall in love at first sight, try to let your kiddos visit the shelter or adoption center a couple times before pulling the trigger on adoption. Most centers have a play area, and you can have some time to interact with the dog before you decide to adopt.

By adopting a dog you’re setting a great example for your children of reaching out and making a difference in the world. You’re showing them that by opening our homes and our hearts to someone in need of love, we can make the world a better place. Just make sure everyone is on board and ready to go so that when the new dog enters your home the transition is a seamless and pleasant as possible. Enjoy your new love!