Your kids have begged, pleaded, and created a PowerPoint presentation to convince you that they’re ready for a puppy. They’ve promised to take care of the new puppy, to train him, walk him, and clean up after him, if only you’ll agree to buy them a puppy! While your children are absolutely sincere in their […]
Your kids have begged, pleaded, and created a PowerPoint presentation to convince you that they’re ready for a puppy. They’ve promised to take care of the new puppy, to train him, walk him, and clean up after him, if only you’ll agree to buy them a puppy!
While your children are absolutely sincere in their intentions to be excellent puppy parents, their intentions aren’t the primary indicators of whether or not they’re actually ready for the level of responsibility that raising a dog requires.
We probably don’t have to tell you that wherever your kids fall short in terms of caring for a puppy, you yourself will have to pick up the slack. That’s why you’re reading this article. We promise, by the time you get to the end you’ll know if your children will be able to handle the responsibilities of raising a puppy! And with that insight you’ll be able to make a wise decision.
You might get your kids a puppy anyway, even if they’re too young to properly care for the fur baby, because you’re willing to take on the responsibility yourself. But at least you’ll go into the commitment with eyes wide open!
Here are 5 signs that your children are ready for a puppy.
Have you observed how your child behaves around the domestic animals of your friends and family? When it comes to kids, their actions and words don’t always line up. A child might think they want a puppy, but whenever they encounter a dog in real life, they shy away or feel afraid.
If your child enjoys the company of pets, especially dogs, when you visit other households, then this is a good sign your child will be able to live comfortably with a puppy who will soon become a dog. But there’s one other aspect to watch out for.
Just as you wouldn’t want your child to run away in fear when a dog enters the room, you also wouldn’t want your child to have zero awareness of a domestic animal’s need for space.
All pets, so long as they don’t live in an aquarium, have moods and boundaries. Cats, dogs, rabbits, and other soft creatures are territorial, and will seek out attention when they need it and also give off signals they want to be left alone. If your child isn’t yet capable of picking up on these signals, then they aren’t ready for a puppy.
When your child is able to observe the behavior of a dog and understand when it’s okay to pet and play, then they’re probably ready for a dog of their own. But if your child is apt to pet a dog when it’s the dog’s mealtime, for example, then he or she isn’t mature enough for a puppy, yet.
All kids manage some level of responsibility at home, whether it’s cleaning their room, washing the dishes after dinner, or taking out the trash. As children grow and mature, their household chores increase and become more complex. The major sign that your child is ready for a puppy isn’t so much the complexity of the tasks they currently have. It’s whether or not your child will do their chores without being reminded, or worse, threatened with consequences if they don’t do their chores.
If your child has a solid track record of doing their chores without being reminded and also of completing those chores in a satisfactory manner, then they are probably ready for a puppy.
Now, there is one caveat. Children aren’t perfect and some degree of forgetfulness is natural. Kids tend to live in the moment and because of this, at times, they can get swept up in their favorite TV show or game and lose track of time. As you observe your child, ask yourself, what percentage of the time do they do their household chores without you having to say anything? If your kid is on top of it a good 80% – 90% of the time, that’s an excellent sign that they’re ready for a puppy.
We recommend that as part of your decision-making process, you add one or two more complex household chores to your child’s list of responsibilities for a few weeks. This will be a good test run to see if they can handle more tasks. If they can, then they’ll probably be trustworthy with taking care of the additional responsibilities that come with having a dog.
Another indication of your child’s maturity level has to do with their ability to fairly assess which dog breed will be best for the household, and compromise if need be. Depending on the age and maturity level of a kid, it’s natural and normal for them to become “fixated” on “what they want.” Many children become so fixated on what they want, that they’ll throw a tantrum if, for example, they get a red balloon and not a blue one.
This can spell disaster when it comes to the breed of the puppy you take home. For example, if your child insists on getting a humongous Newfoundland or Saint Bernard because they fell in love with some pictures, or if they want a high-maintenance Afghan Hound even though the pet store cost is light-years beyond your budget, it’s definitely an indication that their more fantastical than mature and ready for the realities of a dog. In this case, you should definitely not give in to their demands.
It will really be up to you to research the most appropriate breeds for your family, household, and dwelling. Some dog breeds are better suited for apartment and city life while others must have so much outdoor space that it would be inappropriate to expect to home them in a city. Some dog breeds are gentle, laid back, and patient with children, while others are so possessive of their “human” that they are known to get jealous of everyone else. The last thing you want is for your new dog to attach itself to you and grow jealous of your kids!
If your child is able to comprehend the needs and requirements of different breeds, and understands that due to a dog breed’s needs, that breed is not an option for your family, then this is a sign that your child is mature enough to compromise in order to get the best dog breed for your family.
The decision to get a puppy should take into account all the members of your family, as well as your future family plans. Even if your child is ready for a puppy and you trust them to take good care of the new dog, if the rest of your family isn’t on board, then you may need to hold off until they are.
We recommend having a family meeting where you explain what raising a puppy will be like and how to puppy proof your home. Are all the members of your family prepared to keep their belongings safely hidden from the new puppy until the puppy has fully teethed and learned not to treat everything as a chew toy?
There are many realities of having a puppy that your whole family needs to consider. Also, since timing is everything, you might want to ask yourself whether or not you’re planning on expanding your family and if so, when? Can you handle having a puppy or young dog while rearing a newborn of your own? These are important questions to ask yourself. What are your plans for the next 6 months, the next year, the next 5 years, and the next 10 years?
Lastly on this aspect, we recommend that you confirm that no one in your household is allergic to dogs. Have you and your children spent long hours indoors with a dog and are certain that the dander and fur won’t cause allergies or a full-blown allergic reaction? You’ll definitely want to find out before you get a new puppy!
Even if you have the most responsible child in the whole wide world and you trust them to the moon and back with raising and training a new puppy, the fact of the matter is that there will come a time when you, yourself, will have to take care of the dog. Are you personally willing to pick up the slack during these times?
If your child gets the flu or becomes bedridden for days with an ailment, are you prepared to walk, feed, and care for the dog? What about when your child goes to summer camp for two weeks straight? There are many instances in a kid’s life when they just won’t be able to take care of their dog, but someone will need to step up to the plate. Will that someone be you?
Before you get a puppy for your child, it’s important for you to figure out the “Plan B” for when your child isn’t able to care for the dog. Perhaps a good solution is to hire a professional dog walker with your child’s allowance money. Whatever the solution, it’s best to brainstorm now rather than wait to cross that bridge when you come to it!
Now that you’ve gotten a sense of the indicators that your child, or children, is ready for a puppy, it’s important to consider the full duration of the dog’s lifespan. Dogs typically live between 10 – 15 years. This means that if your preteen, ‘tween, or teen gets a puppy, you will have an adult dog on your hands for a good 4 years when your child is away at college. And what about after that?
When you sit down with your kids and family to discuss the possibility of getting a puppy, ask them about where they see themselves in 10 or 15 years. Your kids might not have the wherewithal to comprehend this kind of question, but it will plant important seeds in their mind. More to the point, it will challenge you to answer the same question and envision the scenarios. Where will you be in 10 years? And will you be able to care for an adult-age dog at that time?
From everyone at Petland Florida, we hope this article has been helpful. One final thought to leave you with is that similar to expecting a human baby, there’s really no way to be fully prepared for a puppy. Even if you read a million books on the subject of raising puppies, until you’re in the thick of training one, you really can’t anticipate or fathom the experience. It’s okay to have a little faith and trust that love will carry you through the good times and the challenging ones!