Choosing to take on a dog is a big decision and one that needs to be thought through very carefully. Not only do you have to be able to offer a canine companion a safe home to live in, but you also need to know your family and this includes the kids, are ready to take on the responsibility because your canine friend will be a valued member of the family and one which will be around for a very long time if well taken care of.
The questions you need to ask when it comes to whether your children are ready to share the home with a dog are as follows:
If your children are a little scared around dogs, offering a canine friend a good home is not necessarily going to cure the problem. You have to bear in mind that if a child is scared of dogs, they are more likely to make mistakes around them which means it could result in making matters worse. The best way to deal with a child's fear of dogs is to introduce them to a friend's pet so they can spend time getting to know them. The key is to introduce a child who is scared of dogs to one that is nice and calm with a very kind nature so they build up their confidence. However, you should never force a child on a dog if they are scared of them, it has to be in their own time and when they are happy to do so.
All children need to show a healthy respect when they are around dogs. They have to be taught and shown how to behave appropriately which means not pulling tails or ears for a "bit of fun". They also know when it is the right time to play with a dog – for instance to stay away from their pet when they are eating! Children also need to recognise when a dog has had enough and wants to be left alone.
If your children have started to take on daily tasks around the home which includes loading and unloading the dishwasher, setting the table and anything else you have asked them to do on a regular basis, then you know they are ready to take on and deal with everyday responsibilities which means they could be ready to take on the responsibility of helping look after a dog.
If you have to constantly remind your children to do things, then it means they are not really ready to help look after a family dog. If on the other hand, they never need to be reminded about the things they have to do, they are ready to help out with a new four-legged member of the family namely a dog.
You need to know if your children really understand and are therefore totally committed to helping look after a dog. If children understand what a big responsibility it is, then the chances are they are not excited about the prospect one minute and then bored with it the next. You need to explain to them that owning a dog is not something they can take lightly but that a canine companion should be thought of as a very good "friend" and valuable member of the family.
Next it is really important to choose the right breed to fit not only in with your lifestyle, but also a breed of dog that will suit your children's characters. It would be a mistake to get a Border Collie if you have a hyper active child in the home because the two together could well cause a little mayhem in the household. On the other hand you would not want to get a cute lap dog either, so it's really important to think this through carefully before deciding on what type of dog to share your home with.
The whole family has to want to own a dog because looking after a new pet has to be the responsibility of the entire household. However, this should not fall just to the children especially if they are young, parents have to keep an eye on things. However, children should be given some specific responsibilities, like making sure feed bowls are clean and that your dog has fresh, clean water. They could also be responsible for grooming but this should be supervised by a parent to make sure it's done correctly without hurting your new dog.
Sharing your home with a dog has many advantages especially where children are concerned. Some kids find it easier to interact with dogs and other animals than they do with children and adults. It gives them the confidence they are sometimes lacking which can have a very positive impact on their lives. Our lovely four-legged friends offer owners so much, they are superb companions and always very loyal. For children, having a dog in the home teaches them to be responsible which can prove invaluable as they grow up. Knowing if it's the right time to offer a dog a home means sitting down and discussing it with everyone in the household before making a final decision.
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