Introducing a pet when you have children can seem daunting, but rest assured that the pet friendly experts at your local rescue center will guide you every step of the way. Meanwhile, here’s some basic, tried-and-true advice to help you to ensure that the dog you bring home will blend.

Train your children Yes, we all know the importance of training your dog (it’s one of the most vital things you can do to make your relationship a success), but it’s equally important to teach your children how to interact with dogs in a safe manner. Before you bring any dog home, make sure your kids know how to approach a new dog: extend a hand, palm down, and allow the dog to approach and sniff. If the dog gives your child the “okay” signal (wagging tail, kissing, no signs of aggression, fear, or nervousness), your child should pet the dog on his side rather than reaching over his head. There’s plenty more on this subject later in the book, but the golden rule is quite simply to teach your kids to treat their dog with the respect and gentleness she deserves.

Choose an adult dog Puppies are great, but they’re not ideal for very young children. They mouth tiny hands with pin-sharp teeth, they jump, and they’re also easily injured. Also, contrary to popular belief, you can’t always tell what personality traits your puppy will develop. When you adopt an adult dog, what you see is what you get. It’s much easier to tell if an adult dog is already great with kids than it is to guess if a puppy will grow up to be.

Adopt from a rescue center Many rescue organizations keep their pets with foster families who have a chance to observe their dogs around children and other animals, so rescuers have a pretty clear picture of their pets’ personalities.

Be responsible If you’re adopting a pet for your kids, understand that the responsibility is yours. Kids, by their nature, often tire of things that were once new and exciting, including pets. You will most likely end up being the one who provides most of the pet’s care.

This article is an excerpt from’s book, The Total Dog Manual. For more great tips on all things dog, pre-order the book now on Amazon!