Puppies, kittens and other furry creatures are tremendously appealing, and children are often very enchanted by the idea of having their own real-life cuddly toy. The only problem is that a puppy isn’t a cuddly toy, which is why lots of parents either refuse to get a pup, or get one without realising the work involved, and regret their decision.
That doesn’t mean that having a pet is a bad idea; in fact, growing up with animals is socially, emotionally, and physically good for kids. The issue is being prepared and knowing what you’re taking on, and that the kids – as far as is reasonable – take responsibility for the animal as well.
Puppy or dog?
Puppies are undeniably cute, but they’re a great deal more work than an adult dog as they’ll need house training, socialising, obedience training and not forgetting regular grooming and trimming. If you have the time, and are either knowledgeable yourself or have someone who can help you, then a puppy isn’t out of the question. You do need to make sure you have the facilities, time, and patience to cope with a puppy as well as remember that they won’t be that cute little bundle of fluff for very long!
What breed of dog?
Big dogs start off as small puppies, so don’t make the mistake of buying a pup without knowing how big it’s going to get. A smaller dog won’t necessarily be easier to train, however, and some small breeds are very excitable and bouncy, so finding out as much as you can about the breed you have in mind is well worth the time. You should go for a dog with a calm temper who can cope with the noise and disturbance young children create.
What facilities do you need?
Dogs need space, shelter, food, and companionship. If you’re going to be out all day leaving the dog at home alone, that’s a recipe for an unhappy hound, and you should look at a pet that doesn’t need you around so much, like a cat. If you’re out for a few hours for part of the day, then an even-tempered dog with plenty of home entertainment (bones, toys, and if possible a dog flap so they can get outside) should be fine. There are lots of great resources online such as The Dog Central which contain invaluable tips and advice on how to give your dog the best in terms of care. Trust me they really do become part of the family and you will want the best for them too.
How do you care for a dog?
Different breeds may need different kinds of attention; for example, a long-haired breed needs regular grooming and trimming. If you want a long haired dog and don’t have the time or skills to keep it clean and tidy yourself, you’ll need to take it for regular dog grooming appointments. Otherwise, its coat will become scruffy and matted, causing discomfort and skin disease.
A reputable breeder, rescue centre, or your vet are the best places to ask for advice on feeding and care, and your vet is an invaluable source of support for your dog’s routine health needs as well as being there for emergencies.
As part of our research we stumbled across a wonderful informative website – Why Do Pets it is a great resource for inquisitive minds and answers questions such as “Why do dogs roll in dirt?” or “Why do dogs lick ears?” or even “Why do dogs bury things?“. The kids are really getting a great insight into why dogs do certain things!
Dogs bring life and light to a home, and children who grow up with dogs gain many advantages from the experience. Having a dog can be a blessing, as long as you know what you’re doing and you can provide for all the dog’s needs.