Getting a dog for your family can be a great option for teaching your kids about responsibility, but you should make sure that you’re putting thought into the kind of dog that you’re buying for your family. Not every dog will fit perfectly into your family’s dynamic, and you don’t want to end up having to give your dog away or returning it to the shelter because you didn’t do enough research before picking out your pooch. Below are a few tips to make sure that the dog you choose for your family is there for the long haul.
Consider Your Kids’ Ages and Personalities
If you want to teach your kids about responsibility by having them help out with your new dog, it’s important to consider what they are able to handle. If your child is only two, you may need to guide them while they do most of their responsibilities. Make sure that whatever you plan on having your kids do for your dog is right for their age and maturity.
In addition, younger kids have a tendency to play a little rougher with dogs since they don’t fully understand the concept of being gentle yet. Make sure that if your kids struggle with gentleness, you get a dog that has a very even temperament and won’t snap if they get pet a little too hard.
If your child is differently-abled, be sure to get a dog that won’t have negative consequences due to their abilities. For example, if your child is one of the two to three of every 1,000 children born with detectable hearing loss, they may not be able to hear a dog growling. This could lead to them getting hurt by the dog since they aren’t able to hear the warning sign the dog is giving. In that case, getting an even-tempered and relaxed dog would be the best choice for your family.
Check Breed Characteristics
Certain breeds, especially smaller ones like chihuahuas, are known for not being good with small children since they quickly get defensive and attack. If you want to get a dog that will fit perfectly in your family, make sure that you research different breeds to find out what will work best for you.
For example, if your family has small children and is very active, try to choose a breed that likes to be active, like a golden retriever or Bernese mountain dog. These dogs love walking and hiking and are known for being patient and loving.
Adopt Don’t Shop
Breeders can be reputable and treat their dogs well, but realistically “designer” dogs will be less hardy and healthy than mixed breeds. Because purebred dogs have been inbred in the past to keep the breed pure, they often experience the same health issues. Because of this, adopting a dog from a shelter that has a majority of the breed that you have researched and decided is best for your family is a great way to make sure that your dog lives a long and healthy life.
In addition, many times dogs that are surrendered to shelters end up being put down if no one adopts them, whereas the odds are that puppies at a breeder will be purchased by someone else if your family goes elsewhere.
Think About Allergies
If someone in your family is allergic to dogs, that doesn’t mean that you can never get one. There are many dog breeds that are hypoallergenic and will not cause any allergic reaction for those that have allergies. Dog allergies are caused by the dog’s dander, so getting a dog that is hypoallergenic means getting a dog that sheds less and has less dander, therefore minimizing the allergic reaction. However, keep in mind that no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, and there may occasionally be an allergic reaction to the dog.
What Age is Best?
The amount of work and training you will have to do with your dog can be dependent on their age. If you’re rescuing an older dog, they may have some training already done. However, puppies do not know anything about how they’re supposed to act. Therefore, they will need a lot of training and attention before they will be able to go to the bathroom in the right place, go for walks, and follow basic obedience commands. Make sure that when you’re adopting a dog you are prepared for the amount of training that will be required.
In addition, consider the normal vet costs for whatever age dog you will be getting. For example, puppies need to go for vaccines every three to four weeks until they are four months old, so you’ll need to make sure you can pay for the vet treatment. If you’re getting an older dog, you should plan on going to the vet more often since a dogs’ health declines with age, just like with humans.
Ask Yourself These Questions
Before you make the final decision on getting a dog, make sure that you consider the following questions:
- What Will You Do If There Are Vet Bills? If your dog gets ill, vet bills can add up very quickly. Though some people opt for dog insurance, the odds are that you will be paying out of pocket. If your dog eats something it shouldn’t or gets bitten by a tick, you have to be prepared to pay the vet bills. If you are not financially able to afford vet bills right now, it might be a good idea to delay getting a dog for a while so you can save up a rainy day fund for vet expenses.
- What Will You Do If You Go Out of Town? If you don’t have anyone to watch your dog when you go out of town, boarding it can be expensive. The best dog boarding places can cost as much as a human hotel, so make sure to account for that expense in your future vacation budgets.
- How Much Space Do You Have? Some dogs don’t need a lot of space to be happy, but other breeds need space to run freely in order to be their happiest. If you live in an apartment, the dogs that you consider adopting should be pretty different from if you live on a few acres of land.
Get the Right Gear
Make sure to think about the gear you’ll need for your dog. Aside from the basics of a leash, collar, tag, and food and water bowls, think about the other accessories you’ll need. For example, if you plan on traveling in the car with your dog, you should get a dog car seat. If your dog decides to make a jump in the middle of a drive, it could distract you and cause an accident. 1.25 million people die every year in car crashes, so taking the necessary precautions is very important. Also, if you’re getting a more hyperactive dog or a puppy, getting a harness alongside a collar is also a good idea. Harnesses can help avoid choking your dog if they tug a lot on walks.
Getting a dog for your family can bring a lot of joy to your lives, but make sure that you’re thinking through your decision.
What kind of dog does your family have? What kind of dog are you interested in? Let us know below!