Dogs make great companions and it doesn’t take long before they become “one of the family.”
If you’re considering adding a dog to the family unit, there are several questions you need to answer first.
What kind of dog is best for your family? It depends.
What kind of space can you provide? You'll want to pick a dog whose size and needs are a good match for your household. Do you live in an apartment – where a smaller dog might do better – or do you have plenty of space in a backyard for a larger dog to run and play?
What is your family lifestyle like? Is everyone on the go most of the time, or is someone typically around to train and care for your pet?
Does anyone suffer from pet allergies? There are breeds that don’t shed or shed very little. There are even some that are considered “hypoallergenic.”
Who is the one in the family that will spend the most time caring for the dog?
When kids are in love with the idea of getting a dog, they often make promises to walk, clean up after and feed it. But, who is really going to be the dog’s caregiver? The younger the child, the more likely a parent is to be the one who takes care of the dog. Are you ready to make that commitment?
However daunting it may feel, remember that a funny thing often happens when a dog enters the family dynamic, they usually win everyone over; so caring for one may become more of a loving habit than an unwelcomed chore.
Having a dog can be a great way to help instill responsibility, empathy and life’s difficult lesson on how to say goodbye to a loved one, in a child. If you’ve grown up with pets, you already know how many special moments they provide. If you've never owned a dog, read up on the benefits verses the challenges. There are pros and cons to seriously consider. Dogs need love and to feel welcomed to thrive - just like people.
The American Kennel Club lists several breeds of dogs that are usually very good with children. Some of the top suggestions are:
· The Boxer
· The Beagle
· The Golden Retriever
· The Labrador Retriever
· The Weimaraner
· The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
· The Newfoundland
· The Bulldog
· The Bull Terrier
These are all specific breeds, but many a great dog can be found in a shelter or adoption center. These are typically mixed-breeds but often have fewer health problems than full breeds and a unique sense of appreciation. There are also rescue organizations that find homes for particular breeds.
If you decide on a puppy, know that there will be several phases it will go through. If you have the patience and the puppy gets positive training along the way – you’ve got a dog that knows and understands your family.
An older dog can be just as valuable, doesn't need potty training and after a transition period, can fit in remarkably well.
Not every family is ready to take on the responsibility of owning a dog; sometimes the timing just isn’t right. But when the stars align and you’re ready to give it a try, there’s nothing better than the smile on your child’s face when he or she meets the new family member – and not to forget – that sloppy kiss and wagging tail that greets you when you start the day!