Many of us remember the classic “a boy and his dog” stories that we read in middle school. We read about the boy and his dog who conquered their world while developing an intimate friendship.
Even so, is dog ownership for children always a good idea? What are some things to consider before buying a dog for your child? What are the advantages of dog ownership for children. And how do you begin your search for a dog that will fit your child? Keep reading for the answers to these questions and more!
Things to consider before buying a dog for your child
One of the first questions to ask is, “Is my child old enough to responsibly care for a dog?” A dog requires a significant amount of care, especially in the training stage. Has your child reached the developmental stage necessary to feed the dog regularly, clean up after the dog, and perform other basic tasks that are important to dog ownership? If not, that responsibility will fall on you.
This brings us to our second question. Do you have time to care for a dog? Properly caring for a dog may take as much time as caring for a child. There will be visits to the vet, vaccination shots, dog walks, keeping the dog bed clean, obedience training, etc. If you schedule is already full, can you responsibly bring a dog into the picture?
Do you have the financial resources to properly care for a dog? In addition to time investment, a well-cared-for dog will require a significant financial investment. There will be housing (possibly an outdoor dog kennel), vet visits, food, toys and treats, pet sitting, and other expenses that should be taken into consideration.
If you’ve been able to work through all of the above issues, then you’re ready to consider the reasons for buying a dog for your child.
Reasons to buy a dog for your child
Caring for a dog can teach a child to be responsible. A dog requires daily care which can aid in the development of routine and discipline in a child’s life.
Caring for and playing with a dog encourages a child to be physically active. In today’s digital age there is an increasing need to encourage children to move outdoors and get some exercise.
A dog companion can help to alleviate loneliness. Every child needs a friend and in some situations a dog may help to fill the need for friendship while other friendships are being built.
A dog can teach a child empathy and compassion. Your child will learn to identity with a dog’s expressions of joy, sorrow, guilt, and other emotions.
Choosing a dog for your child
If you are convinced that your child would benefit from a canine companion there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a dog.
Consider the size of the dog vs. the age of your child. A larger aggressive dog may not be a good fit for very young children. On the other hand, a small fragile dog may not respond well to the handling of a young child. Regardless of the age of your child or size of your dog, your child and his or her new pet will require some training on how to get along.
Consider the size of your house and yard. If you live in a single family home with a large back yard, a high energy dog that needs lots of exercise may be a good fit for you and your children. But if you live in a small apartment, choose a dog that can thrive in a smaller space with fewer walks per day.
Be sure to check for allergies. If you have a specific dog in mind, it would be wise to allow your child to spend some time with that dog before making a purchase. Any dog can cause an allergic reaction regardless of fur type. Be on the lookout for sneezing and watery eyes or other signs of allergic reaction during the trial period.
If you are buying your dog from a commercial dog kennel or pet shop, you may need to pay special attention to how your new dog relates to children. A puppy that's been raised in a family setting will more easily adapt to being around children.
Inviting a dog into your family requires careful consideration and planning. If you are willing to plan carefully and make the required time and financial investment, your child will potentially experience a lifetime of benefits resulting from sharing life with a canine friend.