- Do I want a dog?
- Will it be a lifelong commitment?
- Is a dog really something my family needs?
- Will this breed be suitable for my children?
- Do I have time for a dog?
- Will I be able to live stress-free?
- Am I prepared for the training?
- Am I ready for the commitment?
- Do I understand the extent of the commitment?
- Can I afford to look after a dog?
Nearly every parent at some time or another will have their child begging them to get a dog. Maybe their friends have a dog, or maybe they have fallen in love with one they have seen in films or on social media.
Maybe they are just one of those dog-loving children who crave some canine company but for whatever reason, they just ‘must’ have a dog. But you have to ask yourself if the time is right just now to bring a dog into your family life.
Do I want a dog?
Realistically you are going to be doing the heavy lifting when it comes to looking after a dog, make sure you really want one. Not just to keep your child happy but really want one for the next 15 years.
Will it be a lifelong commitment?
A healthy dog can live for up to 15 years – this will take your child through their school years, studying for their exams, their first boy or girlfriend, college, university and possibly even their first job.
Is a dog really something my family needs?
Along with the begging comes all the promises… I’ll look after the dog, I’ll walk them, I’ll groom them, I’ll feed them, I’ll do everything. You won’t have to do a thing. But you have to ask yourself if getting a dog at the moment is what your family really needs, and whether it may rock the balance.
Will this breed be suitable for my children?
Whatever breed your child has their heart set on, think about which breeds traditionally get on well with children. This isn’t just about your dog liking your own family members but also, they need to be happy around your child’s friends and any visitors you have to the house.
Do I have time for a dog?
Dogs are 24/7 – they are not just ‘outside school hours’ animals. Even if your child does do everything for their dog when they are not in school, the dog will still need to look after all the rest of the time.
Will I be able to live stress-free?
They will need to go out to the toilet, they will need to be supervised and played with, and they will need to be considered if you go out for the day – or even when you go shopping. Even with the best intentions, a dog will completely change your life too.
Am I prepared for the training?
Toilet training a puppy does involve not getting much sleep for a few weeks. This isn’t compatible with being awake bright and early to go to school in the morning!
Am I ready for the commitment?
Once they are a bit older, a dog will need walking a couple of times a day. If your child is going to do this it will mean before school and after they come home – every day! In the winter, this often means in the dark. Otherwise, you will be walking the dog most of the time.
Do I understand the extent of the commitment?
Much as your child would prefer not to have to do homework, that is the reality of those school years – and so even when they are not in school, walking and playing with their dog can come into conflict with studies and school work.
Can I afford to look after a dog?
Dogs aren’t just cute bundles of joy that have to be walked and groomed, they are also pets that need a lot of care. They need to have certain foods, especially if they are a breed with a sensitive stomach, or have any health conditions such as pancreatitis in dogs. They also need to be wormed regularly, go for consistent vet checks and also need to have the correct puppy vaccinations.
If you can answer all those questions positively, then yes, go ahead and start looking for a dog for your child – and for you, but just make sure that dogs for children, ultimately end up being your responsibility, and as long as you are prepared for that odd, then the relationship between you, your dog and your children, will be unbreakable.
Growing up with a dog brings a whole host of benefits for children – they learn responsibility, have healthier immune systems, have fewer days off school, tend to be fitter and more active, and have someone who will always give them unconditional love through those difficult school and teenage years. Find out more about kids and pets, with our next article.