Are the kids asking you for a puppy? Any pet is a big responsibility for a child, and a dog needs a lot of care. If the time is right, caring for a dog can be a good way to teach your children responsibility, and how to look after animals, but if they’re not ready, it can end up with you being the only one who takes care of the dog.
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You’ll need to feel confident that the kids can be in charge of feeding, walking and cleaning
up after the dog, with only minimal help from you. Here are the best signs that they’re ready.
1. They’ve done their research. A dog is a lot of work, but it’s a good sign if your child has gone away and done their own research about dog ownership. Have they looked into what breed might suit the family best or researched local rescue centres or puppy breeders? Do they know all about different toys, dog beds and food brands. Have they thought about where they could walk the dog or whether the house is suitable for one? If they’ve done their homework, this is a good sign that they’re aware of the responsibilities of dog care and aren’t just thinking about a cute puppy to play with.
2. They’re well behaved around other dogs. If you have friends or family who have a dog, take note of how your child behaves around them. Do they hassle the dog to make it play with them, or do they patiently wait for the dog to approach them? Are they respectful of the dog’s space? Are they kind to it and interested in looking after it? If they can’t behave nicely with someone else’s dog, they’re not ready for a dog of their own. It’s important for children to know how to interact with dogs safely, like knowing how to safely approach them and how to pet them nicely. If they can’t do this, you run the risk of them being injured by the dog if they aggravate it.
3. Are they responsible? If the children are going to be in charge of caring for a dog, you need to know that they’re responsible enough for the care. If they’re already responsible around the house, this is a good sign. If they’re happy to help with things like doing dishes or other chores, then they should be able to manage looking after their dog. Kids of all ages can help with the dog, so don’t let them off. Even toddlers can do things like fill water dishes, or brush the dog, whereas older children can manage walks and cleaning up after them.
4. You’re willing to help. Small children can’t be expected to care solely for a pet, so you will need to be ready to step in and help. Even older children may need help sometimes whether with the cost of dog ownership or with dog care when they’re busy with their studies.