Bringing a dog into your family can be a hugely rewarding thing to do, not just for your children, but for you as a parent too. Dogs are incredibly loyal companions, and they can help teach your children all kinds of important life lessons, like responsibility, empathy, and compassion. 

However, it’s not usually just a case of picking a dog out of the air and hoping for the best – it’s far wiser to work out exactly which dog (or at least which kind of dog) would be best for your child so you can be sure they’ll get on well and enjoy their lives together. With that in mind, here are some things to consider before you get a dog for your child. 

Photo by Matheus Bertelli

Is Your Child Ready? 

Before you take the plunge and get a dog, it’s best to think about whether or not your child is really ready to take on the task of dog ownership. Owning a dog needs a lot of effort, time commitment, and resources, so it’s a good idea to think this through, otherwise you might be the one left having to take care of the dog, or you might even have to give the dog away because no one can really look after it. 

The first thing to think about is your child’s age and maturity levels (which can be entirely different things). Younger children might be enthusiastic about the idea of having a dog, but they might not really understand the commitment that’s involved. Older children (perhaps eight or older) might have a better grasp of what’s needed, so they’ll be able to do more to care for their pet. 

You should also think about the level of responsibility they show in day-to-day life. Are they good at doing their chores, homework, and other tasks without having to be constantly reminded? If so, they’ll be more likely to be able to handle having a dog. 

Plus, don’t forget that caring for a dog takes a lot of empathy so their needs and feelings can be understood. Is your child able to do that? If so, they’ll form stronger bonds with their pet that will lead them to take better care of it overall. Once you are sure that your child is ready for a pet, you can move on to the next stage – choosing the dog itself. 

Think About Your Family’s Lifestyle

Choosing a dog that fits well with your family’s lifestyle is crucial if you want to have a pet you can look after in the right way, and that will be happy in your home. Different breeds of dogs have different energy levels and needs (physical, social, and mental), so finding a breed that works with your family’s daily routine is vital. Think about how active your family is on a regular basis – if you like to do a lot of outdoor activities, exercise, and so on, an active dog breed is a great idea. Alternatively, if you prefer a more relaxed lifestyle, a calmer breed will fit better. 

You’ll also need to think about how much space you have, both inside and out. Larger dogs or high-energy breeds are going to need plenty more space to move around in than smaller dogs or those that aren’t so active. Plus, there’s the time commitment to think about. Some breeds need more attention, especially if they have to be groomed regularly or need extra healthcare, but there are some types of dogs that are very low maintenance – if you don’t have a lot of time, one of these would be the best bet. 

Other things to consider include whether you’re at home a lot or you go out regularly, how many holidays you might take, or even if you have any other pets. Understanding all of this and thinking carefully about getting a dog might mean that you realise it’s not such a great idea after all, and although that might be disappointing, it’s far better to know it before you make a commitment to a new pet than after you bring one home. 

Research Dog Breeds 

Once you know exactly what your lifestyle is like, you’ll be able to gauge what breed of dog will suit you best, and then it’s time to do your research so you can work out the differences between each breed. Although all dogs come under one umbrella, the fact is that there are some huge differences between dogs of different types. 

Firstly, you’ll want a breed that’s known for having a friendly, patient, and gentle nature, especially when they’re with children – this could include breeds like golden retrievers, beagles, collies, or labradors, like the ones at Lucky Labs

Size is another massively important factor to think about, particularly when you think about how big your child is. If they’re little and you get a big dog, your child won’t be able to control it. Alternatively, a very small dig could be injured accidentally by a child – you’ll have to work out the ideal middle ground. 

Don’t forget to consider the dog’s energy levels when you’re going through the potential breeds that might work for your family; although every dog will have its own personality and own energy levels, understanding what the breed as a whole is like will definitely help you narrow things down, depending on whether you want something more or less energetic. 

And of course, there are grooming needs. A long-haired dog is sure to need more care and attention in that department than a short-haired dog (or even a dog with no hair) would. Will your child be happy to deal with that? Or can you afford the extra funds needed to send them to a professional? It might not seem like that big of a deal, but a long-haired dog that isn’t groomed can get skin infections and become unwell (costing you more at the vet) and will shed a lot more in your home. 

By carrying out plenty of research, no matter how long it takes or how excited you might be to get a dog for your child, you’ll be able to make sure that your new pet will easily fit into your home and become a loyal and loveable member of the family. 

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By Richie

I'm a 40-year-old father blessed with two wonderful children: a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son. My life revolves around my beautiful wife, who is the cornerstone of our family. Without her unwavering support, none of what I do would be possible. By day, I serve as a network administrator for a local school district, ensuring smooth operations in the realm of technology. During the evenings, you'll often find me engrossed in various creative pursuits, from illustrating books to crafting websites or composing music. But above all, my priority is spending quality time with my kids. Parenthood has been a profound journey of growth and discovery for me, and now, armed with a keyboard instead of a pen, I'm eager to share my experiences and insights with others.

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