There isn’t a child alive that didn’t ask for a puppy as their birthday present at least once. Many children pester their parents for a pet day in and day out, making it all but impossible not to give in to their demands. After all, who can say “no” to those big, bright, puppy-dog eyes?
While there’s no denying that a dog could be an excellent addition to any family, before you cave in to your kids’ demands and sign those adoption papers at the shelter, there are a few essential things you’ll need to consider.
By default, most parents will take one of two approaches when considering getting a family dog. A – they will only get a dog if their children show they’re responsible enough to take care of it. B – they will get a dog to teach their children about responsibility.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with either of these approaches. Yes, children will need to take on some of the responsibility of dog ownership, so they’ll need to be mature enough from the start. And yes, they will learn and mature alongside the dog, as well.
However, at the end of the day, the dog will always be the adult’s responsibility. If your family pet gets injured and needs front dog leg wraps, it’s you who will need to make vet appointments. If your kids forget to feed the dog, you’ll need to be the one who’ll put food in their bowl.
The dog’s health and well-being will always be your (and your partner’s) sole responsibility. Your children may help you take care of it, but you’ll need to supervise and monitor them to ensure your family pet is well taken care of.
Small dogs like Pomeranians or Bichon Frise are cute, cuddly, and fluffy – seemingly ideal for small children who want to spend the whole day playing with them. While these particular breeds, for instance, are known for being friendly and affectionate, they might not handle your family all that well if you have toddlers or small kids.
Children who don’t have well-developed fine motor skills might be too rough with these small pooches. Though these dogs might have good personalities to deal with harsher treatment, they don’t have the bodies for them, and they might get injured easily during playtime.
So, you might want to consider a bit more resilient dog breeds if your family has very small children. Depending on your family structure and overall lifestyle, you might even want to consider a different family pet altogether.
Before getting a dog, you’ll need to thoroughly research the breed and the particular dog’s unique personality to find a good match for your family. Then, you’ll need to consider how the breed and the specific dog would fit in with your family’s lifestyle.
If your entire family is active and outgoing, always on the move, a more active dog (or even a working dog breed) could fit in with your family well – Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Dobermans, and the like. If you get one of these dogs, but your family has a more sedentary lifestyle, neither you nor the dog would be satisfied. They’ll likely develop destructive behaviors like chewing through the furniture.
You’ll also want to consider the specific dog’s grooming needs and whether you could meet them. Poodles, for instance, are great dogs for active families but often require professional grooming. If you don’t have the time or the money for that, look for different breeds.
If you take your time and choose the right dog for your family, you and your children could enjoy countless benefits.
As mentioned, your children will learn to be more responsible, but more than that, they’ll learn to be more empathetic, sociable, and compassionate. They’ll grow up with higher self-esteem and have better intellectual development. They’ll even be less likely to develop allergies and other health complications down the line.
Dogs are not just suitable for children. Your senior family members could enjoy improved cognitive function and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels – all thanks to dogs.
Your entire family will be more physically active, and you’ll have more opportunities to spend quality time together.
In a nutshell, if you’re prepared to take care of it properly, a dog could always be a wonderful addition to your family. Ensure your family can provide the dog with everything it needs for its overall well-being, and you’ll all gain a friend for life.