Five Tips for Helping Your Dog Feel Like Part of the Family

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You've all met our forever puppy, Howie, here on the blog and on Instagram. He's been a part of our lives for four years, can you believe it? Because we had Howie for two years before having children and then added two children to our family within the next two years, there were a lot of adjustments that he had to make in a short amount of time. Howie is an important part of our family and we strive every day to make sure that he knows that he has not been pushed aside by the kids that have joined our family.

Read: Why Every Marriage Needs a Puppy

As your family grows, your pets may start to feel left out and less important in your lives. Here are five easy ways to ensure that they always feel loved and know what an important member of the family they are.

Warm Greetings

Whenever we walk in the door, we make sure that we acknowledge Howie. He sits in the window and watches for us to come home every day and we watch him jump down excitedly to greet us as we approach the door. When I'm on the inside waiting for Joe to come home from work with him, I love to watch the way his head perks up when a car enters the circle and how he sits right in front of the door waiting for Joe to come inside.

Having a dog (and kids for that matter) makes every homecoming a big party with lots of hugs, kisses and love. No matter what my day looks like, I always know that I have a furry friend at home who thinks that I am the greatest thing in the world and is waiting eagerly for me to return. Howie's friendly greeting has the ability to turn any day around.

One of our favorite things is the way that Howie greets both of the kids when our entire family comes home from an outing. He'll jump up to give Bensen a kiss and then run over to Emmy's carseat to greet her as well. When we leave with the kids and come home without them, because we've left them with family for a couple of hours, he'll greet us and then search behind us and sniff at the door looking for them. He loves all of his humans!

Daily Walks

I was excited to get a dog and have a reason to get out and move every single day. Howie knows which clothes I wear to go walking and sits next to my side somewhat impatiently while I tie my tennis shoes. There's a specific order we have to follow to get ready for our walks because if we pull out the leash too soon or say the word 'walk' before we're ready to go, we are left with a sad, whining puppy who can't wait to get outside and can't understand why we're not following through on our promise.

Howie loves to join me for my daily workout, walk alongside the stroller while we are out as a family, or take a quick stroll around the neighborhood. When the weather is cold and we can't get out, we play fetch around the house and run up and down the stairs with him at our heels. I'm grateful for a great walking buddy who encourages me to get my daily exercise.

Our toddler loves to hold the leash and walk the dog. When we are getting ready to go out, he holds the leash and tries his hardest to get Howie to come with him around the house. While we are out on our walks, he will often hold onto the leash to "help" us walk the dog and make sure that he doesn't run away. Although you can tell that Howie isn't thrilled about being pulled around by Bensen, he patiently obliges.

Play Time

If someone sits down on the couch or a spot on the floor, Howie immediately runs over with one of his toys. The expectation is that said person will play tug-of-war or fetch until the dog decides that the game is over. If you don't play, Howie barks a little, "Hey, I'm here, play with me!" message. Both kids are quickly catching on to how to play with the dog. He still prefers Joe and I as his play mates, but the better the kids get at throwing his toys, the more he brings his toys to them instead. We're looking forward to watching them all play together and become the best of friends as the kids grow.

Lots of Snuggles

Just as Howie runs over with a toy if you sit somewhere on his level, he jumps at any opportunity to snuggle when Joe lays on the floor or in bed. He is playful and energetic, but that dog of ours knows how to relax with the best of them. He's a fan of early bedtimes and stays under the covers for as long as possible in the morning. In the middle of our play throughout the day, he loves to be held and snuggled with the kids. There are moments when you can find Emmy in my arms, Bensen on my lap and Howie sitting as close to me as possible. Joe and I always look forward to a little extra snuggle time with the dog after both kids are in bed and I know that Howie appreciates the one-on-one time with each of us.

Read: What I Learned About Marriage from the Dog

Meal Time Routine

Every morning and every night, Howie eats his meal while the rest of us are at the table eating ours. It's hard to say what part of his life he loves the most, but I'd say that meal time is right up there at the top of the list. One of the biggest adjustments that Howie has had to make with kids in the house deals with his food. Mobile kiddos who will put anything in their mouths force us to keep Howie's food up off the floor the majority of the time. He has learned to scratch gently at the floor where his food normally sits whenever he is hungry or needs a drink.

Now that Bensen is older, he loves to help feed Howie. He talks us through the process every time he is in charge of feeding the dog. "Scoop da food. Walk careful, no spill. Pour it in dish. Good job!" We love the responsibility that having a dog is helping him learn, even if it means a few pieces of kibble dropped on the floor or water spilled out of the dish.

Amazon.com has made keeping our puppy fed, happy and feeling loved so much easier. Using Subscribe & Save to order our Purina® ONE® is convenient, saves us time and leave us with more time to play with Howie and bond as a family. And the best part is, using the Subscribe & Save feature leaves me with one less thing that I have to remember to do each month. I only had to place my order once, choose my shipping frequency, and Howie's food shows up on our doorstep when we need it. Ordering and subscribing is easy as 1-2-3, seriously, look at the three steps of my order below.

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Howie was really excited when our most recent package of food showed up on the door step. As soon as I brought it in the house, he started scratching at the box, and he ate his food before Emmy even noticed that we'd put the bowls on the floor. He highly suggests the NEW Purina® ONE® SmartBlend True Insticts Real Salmon and Tuna flavor!

You can save $5 off your first purchase of Purina® Pro Plan® or Purina® ONE® for your dog or cat using Amazon.com's Subscribe & Save. Save 5% when you subscribe for one product or save up to 15% when you subscribe for five products. We may or may not be subscribed to receive a few different flavors, one each month, on a three month rotation, to keep things interesting for Howie.

As you can see, our kids both love the dog and much to his dismay, are very interested in everything that he is doing. I think that he looks forward to eating during our mealtimes because it means that he can eat in peace, without an audience or his friends attached to his side "helping" him. As our babies get older and our lives get busier, I hope that continuing to do the five things outlined above will help Howie adjust to each new stage and continue to feel loved and like the important member of our family that he is.

Read: How Howie Adjusted to the New Baby

How do you help your pets adjust to the changes that life brings?