Seven Signs Your Dog is a Family Member

Bringing a dog home to join the ranks of a human family involves thoughtful planning and preparation. First of all everyone in the family needs to agree they want a dog as a family member. If just one member of the family is not in support of the dog things will not go smoothly and will eventually become a difficult situation for everyone but especially the dog. 

Once you have done your research and found the perfect dog for your family you are ready to bring your wonderful dog home. Whether a puppy or an older dog planning and preparation is needed. You need to find a veterinarian to immediately begin vet care for your dog. This is important and hopefully a life long relationship for you and your dog. There are other needs to prepare for your dog like food, exercise, play toys, chew toys, leashes, collars, and sleeping accommodations. Also it is helpful to determine who will have responsibility for walking the dog, taking the dog to training classes, picking up poop and feeding the dog. Dogs need some structure and consistency to help them learn what the rules and boundaries are in the family. All this helps integrate a dog successfully into his new human family.

When you are in a home with a dog successfully integrated into the family you can see some of the tell tale signs immediately.


1) A fenced in backyard to provide opportunity for play and exercise is ideal. If you live in an apartment or don't have a fenced in yard, a dog park or other safe area for you and your dog is another option. Dogs need a place to run and exercise on a daily basis. Even small dogs enjoy being physically active.


2) Dogs need a lot of soft toys or non-destructible toys. Jazz loves his soft toys and you will see him holding and licking a favorite toy throughout the day. Jive is one of those dogs who has never met a toy she could not destroy. Every dog is different. The important thing is to find toys that interest your dog and are toys your dog knows are his only. Keeping toys in a basket or toy box where the dog can access them is ideal. Then the dog knows this is "my stuff" and he may be less likely to get into your stuff. Dogs also need hard chewy toys like kongs and balls. Putting healthy treats like carrots and apple in a kong is a great way to entertain a dog.

3) In addition to soft toys and hard chewy toys dogs need more complex toys like puzzles to exercise their mind. These can be purchased or hand made. This is a puzzle Jazz has to slide the black wooden pieces with his paw to reveal a treat.  I have seen some great mind puzzles hand crafted that cost very little like putting 3 or 4 empty plastic pop liter bottles with a wooden rod through them and the rod secured to wood sides. The dog quickly learns to bat the bottles with their paw until the treats fall out. Dogs need to exercise mind and body with puzzles just for them. Puzzles of their very own.

4) Dogs need a place of their very own to eat. A space devoted just for them. I use an elevated table for both my dogs. They can access the food easier and digest it easier from a level that is equal to their neck.  This space is devoted to the dogs eating needs. Dogs need to know they have a space to call their own for their meals in the house.

5) Dogs need their own sleeping space. This can be a soft dog bed or a fabulous designed bed room or a crate. My dogs are crate trained and now that they are well beyond house training, their crates are always available and left open for them to access whenever they want to. Jazz will often go into his crate for some quiet time. This is his space and only his space as Jives is for her. This personal sleep space is like a dog's very own bedroom in the house. 

6) You may not see the tooth brush for the dogs but a dog needs to have physical and dental hygiene needs met as a member of a family. My dogs do have a tooth brush in their own container on my bathroom counter. When I brush my teeth in the morning they get their teeth brushed. Just as every other family member dogs need body and dental hygiene on a regular basis.

7) Most importantly your dog needs time with you to develop that bond and loving relationship that people will observe when they see you together. It is difficult to describe but you will know it when you see it. A dog and his pet parent who love each other and respect each other in their partnership. The picture here is one of you and your dog!

Woofs & Smiles!