Kids that Want a Dog- Pet tip 185
This scenario gets played out time and time again throughout households in North America and the rest of the world. One or more of the kids want a puppy or a dog and parents have mixed emotions about the whole situation. The kids PROMISE to feed the dog, they promise to walk the dog and play with the dog and use the word ‘please’ multiple times to show their desire. Many parents, to their credit are skeptical. They know about kid-promises and how novelty wears off, and what happens when the novelty wears off. They are also aware that most dogs live to be around 12 years or more and that many kids leave the house to go to school later in their adolescence.
It is important that the whole family agree to get the dog and that the whole family take responsibility for the dog for the dog’s entire life. Even though shelters are full of dogs, and many people return dogs as easily as returning socks to a store, this is irresponsible pet ownership. Dogs are not disposable and a responsible pet loving family should take every measure possible to care for a dog until it passes away naturally. This measure includes the parents being the backup caretakers for the dog if the novelty wears off for the children. Due to the fact that this happens so frequently, if the parents don’t agree to be the backup caretakers, the family should NOT get a dog.
If the parents are okay with being the backup caretakers, then there are a few more checks and balances to consider. It would be important to make sure that no one in the house is allergic to dogs. This can be easily accomplished by bringing the whole family to a humane society or other place where there are different (friendly) dog breeds that the family can interact with. This way the entire family can gauge if anyone is having an allergic reaction and how severe the reaction is. If any family member has a reaction then it’s probably best to see an allergist who will probably advise the family not to get a dog. Although some people think that there are hypoallergenic dogs, this is a myth. All dogs produce an enzyme in their saliva and it is that enzyme that people are allergic to. Although it is true that there are breeds that seem to provoke a weaker allergic reaction in certain people, even those breeds are not recommended for people with allergies. Sometimes an allergic reaction that doesn’t happen in the daytime, happens at night when we are trying to sleep.
If nobody in the family is allergic and everyone takes responsibility then the research begins. Depending on how old the kids are many breeds will not be appropriate. A child should also be mature enough to take care of a dog and most kids are not. Any child below the age of 11 or 12 is likely too young to be the dog’s primary caregiver. Many breeds are too strong and too large for most kids and all breeds will need obedience training so that they become socialized and listen to basic commands. The breed should also be appropriate for the space it lives in. Finally, parents should expect that even though their child promises to be the primary caregiver, occasionally they will need to step in. Soccer practice, studying for exams and the dog needing occasional veterinary care are all cases where the parents will likely have to step in and take charge. As long as the entire family is dedicated to the dog’s happiness, only then would it be time to get a new dog.