Having kids means that at some point in their life they will definitely pop the question – Can I have a pet? or When can I have doggy?
We are dog lovers – my husband and I – but we decided, a while ago, that we had to wait until our girls were a bit older before acquiring them a dog. Some might say that our girls are old enough now – 4 and 7 – but we want them to be responsible enough and to be able to look after the dog by themselves. It’s not really fair for my eldest but we said that when she will turn 10 years old we will take this step.
This is our family decision but how do you decide for your own family? What are the advantages and disadvantages you need to consider before making a final decision?
The pros of introducing a dog into the family
- Your family will gain a new friend
Dogs are a man’s best friend, as the old saying goes, and if you bring one home and introduce it to the family, you’ll find that initial kindness repaid hundreds of times over in the years to come. Families with young children, in particular, can benefit from the companionship and playfulness a puppy provides, and studies conducted in the United States have even suggested that having a dog in the house can reduce anxiety and stress in children.
- You will have an excuse to go for more walks
Dogs have energy to burn – according to PDSA, breeds such as collies, Labradors and German shepherds require up to 2 hours’ exercise every single day. This is great news if you’re the type of person who loves to strap their walking boots on and get outside – you now have a furry friend to take to the beach and stroll up the hills with! You might find yourself exploring parts of your hometown you never even knew existed, and hopefully, reaping the health benefits involved.
You can also get the children involved. In the modern day, kids are kept inside by numerous online attractions, so it’s always good to encourage them to get into the habit of healthy living. Outdoor exercise is a huge part of this.
- Teaches the kids responsibility
From taking them out for walks to giving them healthy pet food at appropriate times of the day, caring for a dog can help to teach children about responsibility and develop their nurturing instinct for the future. This can be particularly advantageous for boys who do not normally get to play the role of caregiver during their formative years.
- Guard the home
Whether you have an imposing Doberman or a yielding poodle, your dog won’t take kindly to anyone seeking to impose on their territory. Just by barking, dogs can deter potential burglars and give you added peace of mind that your property is safe and secure before you go to sleep at night.
The cons of introducing a dog into the family
- The costs involved
The advantages listed above are all great, but have you thought about the money you’ll have to spend on your canine companion? According to the PDSA, the lifetime cost of introducing a dog into the family could be up to £30,000 – with veterinary care, grooming and trips to the kennels during your summer holidays taking up the bulk of this outlay. If you think you may not be able to afford a dog’s upkeep, it might be a better idea not to bring one home in the first place.
- Training can be tough
Every dog is different and there’s no quick and easy way to train a puppy how to sit on command or not to go to the toilet on your brand-new carpet – training is an ongoing commitment and you need to be prepared for some initial mishaps. Patience is required if you’re to be successful and if the dog is to learn what you want it to learn.
- The cleaning implications
Remember that pristine home you used to take pride in showing off to visitors? Maintaining that look became ten times harder when your new pet walked through that front door. From matting fur coats to traipsing in mud from their daily walk, dogs can be untidy creatures. The problem isn’t just confined to the home either – ask yourself whether you’d be happy having a pooch lying on the back seat of your car.
Introducing a new pet into the family home is a big decision to make and it’s worth running through some of the above points with your partner and your children before you start looking for a pup to purchase. Despite the cost, training and cleaning implications though, a family dog can provide a number of benefits, not least of which is they’ll always be there to greet you at the door after a tough day at work!
So what do you say? Would love to hear from you especially if you already own a dog.