Owning a dog is great for a child’s development and our furry friends are often a very important part of family life. But deciding when you should get a dog can be tough. Getting a puppy when you’ve got a newborn baby isn’t the best idea because you will just overstretch yourself. Waiting too long isn’t ideal either because your child won’t benefit while they are in those crucial developmental stages in early life. It’s not just your child you have to consider either, you have to decide whether the whole family is ready for a dog too.
You need to think about whether your child is ready to take on the responsibility of having a dog and whether your family is ready for that change or not. This can be difficult, but there are certain signs you should watch out for. Here’s how to tell whether your family is ready for a dog or not.
Your Child Likes Animals
A fear of animals can be more disruptive than people realize. Children are likely to come into contact with animals in their day to day life and if they don’t get over this fear, it can be a hurdle in adulthood. It gets in the way of relationships and it also means that they miss out on owning a pet, which is a wonderful part of life. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that buying a dog is the best way to help them get over that fear. Throwing them in at the deep end like this could easily backfire and it’s not fair on the dog if your child doesn’t get over their fear and you end up having to rehome your new pet.
If you are concerned about a fear of dogs, ask friends who have dogs to bring them over so your child can gradually learn to get used to them. You could take them to the shelter and introduce them to some dogs too. Just remember that some children are naturally afraid of animals and even though you can help them conquer this fear to an extent, you’re not going to get them to love dogs.
You have to be realistic in this situation and only get a dog if everybody in the family loves animals and actively wants a dog.
They Understand How To Interact With Dogs
This is a very important one because children can be quite rough with dogs. Young children don’t always understand that they are hurting dogs with their rough play and this is very distressing for the animal. You shouldn’t get a dog until your child is old enough to understand that dogs should not be hit or pulled at and if the dog is feeling anxious or distressed, they need to be left alone. A lot of this comes from experience, so introducing them to some dogs beforehand is always a good idea. If you do decide to get a dog, talk to your child in advance and make sure that they know how to interact with your new pet safely.
Your Family Is Active
Dogs need a lot of exercise, so if your family isn’t active and you don’t like the idea of going on long walks every day, you should probably consider another pet, like a cat. When you are choosing the breed of dog, you need to think about the level of activity that you and your family are willing to commit to. For example, if you are looking for lab puppies for sale, keep in mind that they’re a very energetic breed and they grow up to be quite large, which means they need long walks every day. If they don’t get enough exercise, they may experience issues with weight gain and they will also become restless, so they’re more likely to chew furniture.
If you and your family are not very active and you feel like walking a dog every day will be a chore, you should think twice about your choice of pet.
Your Finances Are In Good Shape
Dogs are expensive and even if they are in good health, you still need to cover the cost of food, toys, and regular checkups with the vet, which all adds up. If you want to make sure that your dog is happy and healthy, you need to be able to afford trips to the vet and treatments when they need it. It’s unfair to take on a dog if you are unable to manage the financial responsibility of owning one. Consider whether you would be able to manage financially if your dog needed serious medical attention. Do you have enough money to pay for insurance? If you’re not in a great financial position right now, you should think twice about getting a dog.
Your Child Is Responsible
A lot of children say that they want a dog, but they’re only thinking about one aspect of pet ownership. They like the idea of having a furry friend to play with, but they don’t think about who feeds them and takes them for walks or who picks up after them when they go to the bathroom. The last thing you want is to buy a dog that your child is interested in for a few weeks before they get bored and then you are left handling all of the care duties. Your child needs to be responsible enough to look after a dog and understand that this is a long term responsibility that they are agreeing to help out with.
It can be difficult to gauge how responsible your child is and whether they are ready for a dog, but people often look at how their child handles brushing their teeth. If they still have to be reminded every night, it’s likely that they’ll have to be reminded about walks and feeding your new dog. But if they brush their own teeth every night without fuss, that’s a sign that they have a reasonable level of maturity and are probably ready to look after a dog.
You should also start giving your child some basic jobs to do around the house to see how they do. If you can successfully get them to unload the dishwasher or tidy their room without too much complaint, that’s a good sign. But if they constantly complain about having to help out or they simply forget when you ask them to do things, it’s unlikely that they will keep up with their responsibilities when it comes to looking after a dog.
You Have Time In Your Schedule
A new dog requires a lot of time. It’s vital that you train them properly and it’s best if somebody is in the house with them the majority of the time while they get used to their surroundings. If you bring them into a new home and then immediately leave them on their own, this can be incredibly distressing for them. So, before you get a dog, consider whether you have time in your schedule to properly care for them.
If you are the kind of family that always has something going on, you may struggle to find space for a dog in your life. In that situation, it is often the dog that suffers because you don’t have time to walk them or play with them. If things are very hectic right now, consider holding off for a while before you get a dog.
Looking after a dog is a big responsibility and it will change your family dynamic. So, before you do anything else, look out for these signs to tell if your family is ready.