A child and their dog are a beautiful connection. Parents often have dreams of sitting on their porch, watching the kids frolic in the yard with their canine best friend. While this dream is easily achievable with the number of dogs out in the world needing a home, knowing when to make the dream a reality is crucial.
Dogs are a huge responsibility, especially for children. If parents weren’t already dog owners when their child was born, it’s natural for them to wonder what’s the best age for their child to get a dog. While every little one is different, most feel that between the ages of 5 and 8 is a great time to make a dog part of the family. Let’s learn more about children and dogs, and how you can determine if your little ones are ready for the responsibility of taking care of a new best friend.
Signs Your Child Is Ready For A Dog
No matter your child’s age, you’ll see certain signs when your child is ready for a canine best pal. Parents who have been dog owners throughout their lives may pick up on these signs easily. Parents who aren’t overly familiar with having pets may not.
To help parents of both walks of life, here are a few signs to watch for when trying to determine whether your child is ready for a pet:
When a child begins to exhibit these signs of being ready for a dog, it’s a good time for the parents to begin the discussion about bringing a pet into the home.
Being The Adult In The Situation
No matter how much your child promises to help with a dog, ultimately, the adults are the ones responsible for the new member of the family and ensuring all children in the household are safe. This is a big task. Your little one may do great with the dog, take it for walks when needed, and keep the food bowl full, but you must be ready for the responsibility as well.
Here are a few signs to help you know you’re prepared for the task at hand:
Choosing The Right Dog
When you feel that both you and your children are ready to bring a pet into the home, the biggest decision is choosing the right dog. Every family is different and should choose a dog that suits them. Sure, you want a cute dog, but if the cute dog gets scared at the sound of loud noises or doesn’t seem to like kids, it may not be your new family member. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right dog for your family.
Temperament is key with a dog. A dog breed that shares a like mindset with your child is a great choice. If your kiddo is outgoing, loud, and loves to play, so should their dog. The same can be said for shy, more reserved children.
Your living situation also plays a significant role in choosing a dog. If you live in a small home or an apartment, you won’t have room for a Great Dane or St. Bernard. You also need to factor in whether you have a place outside for an active breed to exercise.
Lifestyle is another big thing to consider before bringing a dog into the home. If you aren’t an overly active family, a dog that is more chill and happy while snuggling with the family may be your best option. You wouldn’t want to choose a breed that requires tons of exercise. This could result in them becoming bored and taking it out on your home.
The costs of dogs are also something you should factor in when choosing a breed. Yes, food, toys, and bedding are all important, but your pet will also need routine veterinary care. Overall, you’ll find that larger dog breeds cost more. They eat more and cost more for veterinarian care. That doesn’t mean they can’t be part of the family, just be aware of this before making your decision.
The breed should be a factor. You want to choose a dog breed that is known to do well with children. Potentially aggressive dog breeds wouldn’t be a great first choice for a child.
Finally, look for a connection. Whether you’re adopting or working with a reputable breeder in your area, you and your child will connect to the right dog when you meet it. You’ll feel it. Don’t ignore that feeling.
Always Supervise Your Child
Now, comes the most important thing you should remember when bringing a dog into your child’s life: supervision. It’s going to happen at some point. No matter how gentle your child is with the family dog, they are going to accidentally step on their tail or pull at the dog too hard. Some dogs will react and try to correct your child when this happens. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll bite, but they may growl or snap to stop the situation.
Unfortunately, in some situations, biting could happen. This is why it is so crucial that parents always supervise their children when they are interacting and playing with any pet. The dog may belong to your child or be your child’s best friend, but ultimately, you are the adult in the room and responsible for overseeing everything and making sure both humans and animals are always safe.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that play a part when determining the best age for your child to get a dog. While bringing a dog into the family is a heartwarming situation, it also deserves a proper amount of thought and consideration. As a parent, it’s up to you to make the final decision. When you feel the time is right, welcome your new family member with open arms and be prepared for the countless memories you will share.
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