Adding a dog to your family is a total commitment. Be prepared to drastically alter your lifestyle if you are planning to welcome this furry family member into your life. As with most big decisions, careful consideration and planning ahead of time can make the entire process more positive for everyone involved.

Call a family meeting

Realistically looking at everyone’s schedule and determining how each family member can contribute prior to adoption will go a long way to ensuring that your dog’s needs are met and that no one is stuck doing everything.

For example, if you work full time, perhaps the kids can pitch in with daily food and water commitments. Have a walking schedule on the fridge to delegate who takes the dog out when. Is afterschool the best? Perhaps a family walk after supper instead of watching TV is more appropriate? Some early birds may prefer to start their day at dawn and take the dog around the block, stopping at the mailbox.

Be realistic

Expecting everyone to change their personalities and habits once your new puppy moves in will only set you up for disappointment. In order to ensure a smooth transition, look at where everyone currently is in their routines and see if adding a dog is even an option. If you are driving the kids all over to extracurricular activities, decide if your puppy will be joining you for lots of car rides. Never leave your dog unattended in the vehicle. You might need to check with the coach ahead of time or budget for an extra crate to include Rover on all of your road trips.

The dog poop dilemma

Teach your kids right from the start that it is not acceptable to allow your dog’s mess to be left on anyone’s lawn or garden. Anyone walking the dog needs to have a little baggie with them just in case. This can be tied to the leash to prevent forgetting — however, be wary if you are training your puppy as swallowing or chewing plastic can be fatal.

At home, take turns each week with doggy duty to prevent one person from feeling like they always have to do the dirty work. Sharing the responsibilities of pet ownership teaches everyone to participate and helps to set your children up to be excellent care providers.

Consistency is vital

In order to communicate your expectations clearly to your Goldendoodle puppy, be sure that you and your family members are on the same page. Discuss where the dog will sleep to prevent confusion. Will it be allowed on the beds? Do you prefer a mat, dog bed or crate? If one person forbids couch cuddles and the other members of the family don’t see the issue, you may find yourself endlessly yelling at the dog or the kids. Discuss the rules ahead of time so that you can all participate in gentle reminders when needed.

Adding a dog to your family is a total commitment but it is achievable and is an extremely rewarding experience. Things will go much smoother if you hear each member’s input ahead of time. This will help you determine what expectations and schedule works best for everyone.