Undoubtedly, receiving a puppy on their birthday is any kids’ idea of the perfect present. However, should you get them a puppy as a surprise? Will they be able to care for your pet for the years to come?
It is undeniable that welcoming a pet into a household has wonderful benefits, from making your family more social to helping you adopt a more active lifestyle.
However, before rushing to the nearest breeder, there are some considerations that any parent should do. Don’t underestimate these, as they can genuinely make a difference in the experience you will live with your dog for the years to come.
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Getting your kids ready to care for a dog
A dog can change the life and habits of a family, which is something to keep in mind before introducing a dog into a household. Even if you are fully conscious of these changes and ready to adapt, you should avoid surprising your little ones with a puppy for your birthday.
Instead, getting them to participate in the process can help them adapt to the idea of having to care for someone else. Something that you should communicate with your children before adopting a pet include:
- The necessary change in habits – dogs, especially when they are still puppies, might need a precise routine to follow, which might not be the ideal for you. Indeed, a puppy might need to walk very early in the morning or late in the evening. Your kids should be aware that this is something they might have to attend to, even if it does not fit their schedules.
- Training – a young puppy will not be house trained at the moment of adoption. You might be fully prepared for it, but your kids should learn to do their part towards it.
- Compassion and care – a dog is a lifelong present that can drastically change everybody’s lives in your household. Your kids need to understand to treat him or her as part of the family and with respect. Indeed, dogs, especially when they are still puppies, are highly responsive to their surrounding environment. Their owner’s behavior can shape their personality and have a significant impact on their attitude.
Ultimately, as ASPCA suggests, pets should be gifted only to individuals that have expressed the desires of owning one, and they are familiar with the responsibilities that come with it. If you are giving a dog to children younger than 12, you should be ready to take full responsibility for training, development, and care.
Educating your kids
Undoubtedly, a dog can fill any children and adults with joy from the moment of bringing him or her into the household. However, your children need to understand that a dog is not a toy to play with until it becomes cumbersome to care for him.
- Statistics and choices
While it might not be the easiest of subjects for a conversation with your kids, they should be aware that 6.5 million pets end up in shelters every year just in the US. Speaking about these types of statistics might help them make a conscious choice regarding adopting a pet and sensibilize them to such topics.
- Spraying and neutering.
Preventing pets from reproducing is another way to control and limit the number of animals abandoned and currently in shelters. It is essential, especially if your family cannot care for more than one pet at a time.
- Microchips and collars
Caring for a dog might also mean that you have to take precautions in place if an excited puppy gets lost on your daily walks. If found by someone else, they need to have the pet owner’s contact details to return it.
- Pet safety and emotional care
Lastly, it is vital to instill in your child the importance of treating your dog with care and compassion. Indeed, these loving creatures might be their best friends for the years to come and bring considerable benefits to their development – such as reducing anxiety and providing protection. However, the relationship should be mutual and based on emotional care.
A pet comes with responsibilities.
If you have already decided that your family is ready to welcome a dog, you should not underestimate the responsibilities that come with it. As we have seen, in the case of children younger than 12, you might have to take full responsibility for the dog’s development.
However, as your children get older, you could consider splitting the pet care duties. You might decide to ask your children to feed or walk the dog once a day if this is possible. Alternatively, your little ones might be in charge of picking up the dog’s toys and reorganizing them.
These might seem little tasks at first, but they can help any family deal with necessary daily tasks. Moreover, you can use this time to teach your children to be accountable and assume their responsibilities. All this might represent a steep learning curve for the whole family, but it will be worth it!
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A shelter dog vs. a breeder dog
After clarifying all the points above, it is time to decide on the adoption process. Purchasing a dog from a breeder and adopting it from a shelter has pros and cons.
Adopting a dog from a shelter
A shelter dog is usually older and sometimes hybrids of mixed-breeds. These characteristics might prevent you from enjoying the puppy stage and have you deal with pre-existing issues.
If you are not sure about the dog’s behavior and character, it can be dangerous to expose your kids to it. Indeed, if you don’t know how the dog can react in certain situations and what are triggers that can spike episodes of aggressiveness, you should speak to an expert first.
However, sometimes, in shelters, you can find well-behaved and trained dogs that belong to a specific breed. While they might still be older than a puppy, this choice can reduce the number of dogs euthanized each year.
Finding a breeder
On the other hand, deciding to purchase a dog from a respectable breeder allows you to have the first choice on its pedigree and breed. In turn, these characteristics help you choose the right dog for a family with kids.
Wisely picking a breeder is essential in this case. Indeed, many breeders mainly focus on breeding puppies to increase their incomes. Such unethical practices can be highly detrimental to the health of the parents as well as for the puppies.
However, others are sustainable and knowledgeable and aim at breeding only healthy and high-quality puppies. If you have opted to purchase a dog from a breeder, head to this page to find a highly respectable breeder.
Picking the breed and the puppy
The choice of what dog to get has to take into consideration many factors. Aside from your budget and financial status, you should evaluate the size of your flat or house, as well as the time availability. Some breeds might be more kid-friendly, and some dogs might require a much higher level of exercise than others.
Ultimately, while contemplating your kid’s opinion, you should speak to the rest of your family and experts before making a choice. When picking a puppy from a litter, remember that the puppy might become excited if the people around him are, and also, kids tend to make their choices based on emotions. Instead, it is vital to make this choice logically to find a puppy that matches your needs perfectly.