animals

Getting a pet dog for your child – pros and cons

Getting a pet dog for your child – pros and cons

 

Should you get a pet dog for your child?  

Absolutely. The benefits of having a pet for your child far outweigh whatever cons it may have. The question isn’t IF you should get a pet for your child, but WHEN should you get one. Get a pet when your child is too young, and you’re setting yourself up for one more infant to care for – timing is everything.

Let’s look at a few pointers on getting a pet home, and caring for him or her:

1 – The Timing

Most children are largely independent by the time they are 5 or 6, which is a great time to bring in a pet. I remember when we brought home Snoopy, our English Cocker spaniel, our son was 5 and daughter 4, and that has worked out just fine.

Alternately, get a pet home BEFORE you have a baby. Ideally, if your pet is about three years old by the time the baby arrives, not only is she very manageable at that age, but will also care for the child in the most fiercely protective manner. Remember those heart – warming videos you’ve seen on the internet of huge dogs caring for tiny infants? Well, they could all be very true and probably are.

Bringing that dog home when your child is any younger than 5 could be a problem, unless you have loads of help, are familiar with caring for pets and generally are good with animals. You will find that your child herself is still too young to care for the dog, and the dog too will need a lot of caring for the first six to nine months. Visualize a scenario where the dog and baby both need to go to the bathroom at the same time, and YOU have to clean up after both of them!

A word of caution here – even if your child is 5 or 6 when you get home a pet dog, don’t expect them to be able to care for the dog independently. After all, they’ve only just begun to take care of their own needs, getting them to care for another life at this early stage is expecting too much. What they can do is participate in small chores concerning the dog, which brings us to the next point.

2 – Learning Responsibility

There is no better way than getting a pet dog home to teach your kids how to be responsible for themselves and someone else too. Now this doesn’t mean that the dog is a guinea pig that you use to ‘teach’ your kids the importance of taking responsibility. Far from it. It’s important to remember that the pet you’re getting home is a child herself, and needs all the love, care, attention and patience that a child demands. Get your kids to participate in the process of caring for and training the dog. Even give them independent responsibility of small chores concerning the dog, like ensuring the water bowl is clean and filled, the leash is put in the right place after the dog has been walked, her coat is brushed everyday etc. This teaches them to be responsible, while at the same time forge an unbreakable bond with the dog – a bond that brings us to the next point.

3 – Learning to care. And share

We all struggle to get our kids to learn the importance of sharing with others. Get a dog home, and you will find that she will teach your child how to share! The very act of caring for the pet develops an empathetic instinct in the child, and sharing with others is a natural progression from there. On a lighter note, the pet, a child itself, will anyway want to play with every toy your child has, forcing her to share or keep her toys in the right place and out of reach of the dog. In either case, you’re a winner!

4 – Getting their hands dirt 

Cleaning up after a pet can be quite something. Especially while the dog is still being toilet trained, you will find her peeing and pooping all over the place – and this has to be cleaned up! Before we’d got our dog home, we’d made a deal with the kids that they would clean up each time the dog pooped. Of course they readily agreed to it, without knowing what they were getting into. Inside of the first week, cleaning up after the dog turned into a hilarious game of ‘it’s your turn!’ between our kids. While we still did the bulk of the cleaning, they, especially our son, would solemnly scoop the poop and flush it down!

 5 – Stress Busters

 Dogs are the best stress – busters ever. Period. Feeling down / low / sad / unwell / out of sorts? All you need to do is pet and cuddle your dog, or simply chat with her and you’ll feel all your worries melting away! This is no emotional hocus – pocus, but a fact proven by research, time and time again. Dogs not only absorb your stress, but banish every sense of negativity from the environment.

 So go ahead and bring that pet home. If you want to know which is the best breed to bring home, check out our blog here.

 

 

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