You’ve raised a real dog lover! Your child just seems to be a real dog magnet. Every Fido and Rover bound up gleefully to meet your little one and the feeling is mutual. Maybe your kid has asked you the magic question a few times:
Muuum, can we get a doggy?
In your heart of hearts, you know it could be a good idea. There is evidence to show that pet ownership can be great for your child’s development, teaching them life skills and responsibility. But you also know that adopting a dog equals mess, noise, and yet another mouth to feed.
It is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly, so here are five questions you must ask yourself before adopting a family dog.
1. Do you have the capacity for a dog?
Dogs can be very time consuming with all of the training, walking, and playing involved.
But there is a reason I didn’t use the time as a deciding factor. I mean capacity.
Being a Mum to young children is a full-time job. You are constantly on the go with a million errands to run. Now add a dog into the mix. As much as your kids may say that they will be taking care of your new family addition, I think we both know who will do the majority of the poop scooping, walking, washing, and feeding!
That’s not to say that dogs are a burden. Far from it! Dogs are a delightful addition to your family home and can bring so much love into your life. I am just encouraging you to review your lifestyle and see where a dog will fit in. If you already feel like you are burning the candle at both ends, a dog is unlikely to lighten that load.
2. Will your kids be responsible owners?
The family dog is just that – a family dog. Everyone should be a key part of your dog’s upbringing in some way. You know your children best and if they have the tact and care to look after a new furry friend.
You can have the most docile, gentle doggy in the world – that doesn’t mean your children should be allowed to poke, prod, and even strike your dog however they see fit.
Before I adopted my first dog at 10 years old, my mother forced me to volunteer at a local rescue shelter for a whole summer to learn the ropes of dog ownership.
Make sure your kids are fully on board with becoming responsible, caring dog owners.
3. Are you able to train a dog effectively?
The perfect family dog is taught, not bought. Training is paramount to instilling good habits and skills. It also strengthens the bond between you and your dog.
“Effective, calm and consistent training is key to your dog’s happiness. Without structure and guidance, a dog will feel anxious in their new home,” says Sharon Elber from gentledogtrainers.com.au.
I highly encourage your children to take part in the training process as it will teach them about your dog, as much as your dog is learning about you all.
4. Do you have room in the family budget for a dog?
Vet bills, insurance, training equipment, dog bowls, medication, treats, food, carriers and so much more! The costs of dog ownership can add up significantly. You need to be fully prepared to accommodate your new family companion into your monthly budget.
Depending on the lifestyle you have, you may not need to buy everything. For example, if you have a garden, you will be able to housetrain your dog to go outside more easily. Therefore, you probably won’t need pee pads etc like you would in an apartment.
Still, sit down and make a fully itemised budget of what you expect to spend on your new furry friend. If you can comfortably afford it, then away you go!
5. What kind of dog will suit your family?
If you choose to adopt a dog, which we highly encourage, then the most important things to know are:
- The dog’s temperament
- Their experiences with children
- Their personality
- Their grooming needs
- Their age
- Their breed
- Any pre-existing conditions
- Any food intolerances
- Any strange phobias or aversions
It is good to have preferences for these things but do keep an open mind. You’ll be surprised at the dog that ends up stealing your heart!
The shelter you choose to adopt from will know their canines inside and out. They will be able to match you perfectly with a selection of their pups. You can then meet them to see who will fit into your family.
Absolutely make this a family outing where the whole family can meet your potential new pup. Making the choice together is part of the fun.
A dog is not for Christmas, a dog is for life. If you are prepared for them, the right dog can make your life infinitely brighter! I hope these 5 questions help you to decide whether adopting a dog may be right for you and your family.
Do you have any other questions or considerations to add to this dog-ready list? Tell us in the comments below.