The addition of a dog to your family can be a great way to get your kids more involved in the running of the household, give them a sense of responsibility and bring joy to everyone that lives in your home. When a dog is hastily chosen or introduced to the household on a whim, however, the situation can be a miserable one for all involved parties. Before you give in to your kids’ fevered pleas for their very own dog, there are some things you should carefully consider.
Puppy beagle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- A Pet is a Lifelong Commitment – Just like any other long-term commitment, the addition of a dog to your family is something that you need to fully understand before taking the plunge. When you bring your dog home, he will become a part of your family unit and should be treated as such. Relinquishing a dog because you made an uniformed or impulsive decision will be traumatic to him and can be very upsetting to kids that have become attached to him. It’s better to forgo the idea of a family dog altogether than to adopt one that you’ll later surrender.
- Your Puppy and Your Children Will Not “Grow Up Together” – There’s a prevailing misconception that puppies and babies are the ideal combination. In fact, most families find the exact opposite to be true. Just as a new baby needs constant supervision and attention, so will a brand new puppy. Hold off on the introduction of a puppy to your family until the youngest members are old enough to understand the importance of being gentle.
- Young Dogs Must Be Trained – Puppies are certainly adorable, but they’re just like small children in the sense that they need help learning good habits and behavior. Adult dogs that have already been suitably trained may be a better choice for families that can’t dedicate the required amount of time to the training of a young puppy.Cover of Puppies
- Kids Will Eventually Slack Off When it Comes to Pet Care – Any parent knows that a child in the throes of puppy fever will make any manner of promises in order to get the dog they’re dreaming of. In most cases, though, that commitment to pet care will cool as the novelty wears off. If you’re not willing, as a parent, to ensure that a dog is properly fed, walked and cared for, it’s not a good idea to add one to the family.
- Your House will Need to Be Puppy-Proofed – Puppies chew on anything they can find, and will inevitably destroy something you’re fond of if the house isn’t properly puppy-proofed. If you’re not willing to make the requisite adjustments in order to keep both your belongings and your new puppy safe, it’s best to reconsider the idea of adopting one.
- Your Lifestyle May Not Be Conducive to Dog Ownership – Families today tend to be on a tight schedule from the moment they wake up until they finally fall into bed at night. Most of the time, these strenuous family schedules simply aren’t conducive to dog ownership. A dog of any age, from puppy-hood throughout adulthood, will require a certain amount of play and affection. If you’re not able to provide him with such, a dog may not be the right choice for your household.
- Small Puppies Can Grow Into Large Dogs – The tiny puppy that captures your heart may, depending on his breed, grow into quite a large animal. If you’re living in a small space or not equipped to house a large animal, don’t allow yourself to be swayed by the diminutive stature of a puppy. Young dogs grow fairly quickly, and you may find yourself in an untenable situation if he’s too large for the space available.
- Dogs Aren’t Cheap – Responsible dog ownership means more than filling a food and water bowl each day. Dogs need routine check-ups, preventative veterinary care, medication when they’re sick and should be spayed or neutered. All of these things cost money, perhaps more than you might expect. A very tight budget and a new dog aren’t generally very compatible.
- You Don’t Have Much Patience – If you find yourself struggling to keep a grip on your temper on a regular basis or just don’t have patience to spare, a dog is not right for your family. Even well-trained adults will sometimes misbehave, and will often try the patience of those around them with their well-meaning antics.A portrait of a Beagle puppy.
- Temperament and Disposition – If you’re convinced that the addition of a dog will pose no problem and everyone in the family is ready, it’s time to start your search. That doesn’t mean, however, that the time for second thoughts has passed. Each dog you meet should be objectively evaluated, and you must ask questions to get an idea about his disposition and temperament. Some dogs aren’t well-suited to life with kids, while others can’t share a space with another animal. Know what you’re getting into before you make a commitment