It is almost inevitable that within your family unit at some stage, a child will stage a heart-felt plea for a dog. In fact, even children that have previously grasped your coat sleeve manically or whimpered as the smallest and cutest dog in the world approaches on the pavement, will have a miraculous change of heart and ask for a family pet.
Owning a dog can certainly be a very positive experience, adding a sense of calm, fun and perhaps most importantly, unconditional love to the family unit. When you feel stressed, anxious, overworked and troubled, look into your dog’s eyes and they will be awash with love for you.
But unlike owning goldfish, hamsters or even cats with their stubborn sense of independence, bringing a dog into the family needs to be a highly considered decision. Here are our top three considerations:
1. Make sure you have the time that owning a dog requires
We live in an era of many parents both being part of the working routine, and unless this involves working from home, there needs to be thought into how long you would need to leave a dog for. Opinions on acceptable lengths of time differ, but a rough estimate of 4 hours seems to be the upper limit. Of course, options such as popping home to see your dog and dog-sitters and walkers exist so long working hours are not necessarily a barrier to owning a dog, but this is often the main reason why families don’t bring a dog into the family. Assess your situation honestly and with the dog’s welfare at the forefront at all times.
2. Be prepared to excercise your dog every day
Owning a dog means taking responsibility for its welfare, and exercise is very important in this. Walks need to be done in order for a dog to ‘do what it needs to do’ and is actually one of the positives that new owners experience as their own fitness can increase as a result. But walking has to happen come rain or shine. If you have older children, it is often a good idea to involve them in this from the beginning with a rota and this needs to be adhered to with no excuses.
3. Research your breeds
The breed of dog you choose can make the difference between success and failure when it comes to living with your dog in complete harmony. This comes down to size, characteristics and hair loss to name a few. Your first dog, especially if you get them from a puppy, can be an overwhelming experience with chewed furniture, pools of urine and nipped ankles being part of the norm. Every member of the family should be aware of what to expect and it is important to enlist everyone’s help in the training of your dog to be part of your family with your rules and your expectations.
Knowing what to expect when bringing a dog into the family can mean that you avoid the many and varied pitfalls of initial dog ownership and you can look forward to having an extra and very loving new member in your family. As dog-owners say, once you have owned a dog once, you will never be without one.