Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Kids are Ready for a Dog
Kids are notorious for going through phases. They decide halfway through lunch that they don’t want to eat what they requested. A week or so after they get that goldfish, the novelty has worn off and feeding it becomes a chore. They’ll beg for the latest gadget for weeks, and when you finally give in and buy it for them they play with it for a few days and lose interest.
So how do you know when your children are actually ready for something as demanding as a dog? Dogs require an immense amount of time and dedication, and it takes a certain personality to properly care for them. Here are a few ways to prepare your child, and some signs that might indicate their readiness.
The moment your children start begging you for a puppy, start evaluating their preparedness. Have they proven that they are responsible enough to care for a dog, or will you be the one to take it out, feed it, and play with it after a few weeks when the excitement has worn off?
Give it Time
Children are fickle, and you don’t want to rush out to the pound the first time they ask for a dog. Instead, let them think about it for a few weeks or even a few months. If their excitement dwindles, you’ll be grateful you aren’t saddled with a dog your children no longer want. If their enthusiasm only increases, their desire is most likely genuine; they might actually be ready for the responsibility.
Consider starting your children with an animal that requires less time and attention. Buy them a goldfish or a small lizard or gecko, and monitor their dedication to feeding it and cleaning its tank. They might not be as enthusiastic about this pet as they would a dog, but a puppy will require much more time and attention than a fish. If they can apply themselves to a fish’s care despite their lack of enthusiasm, it might be an indication that they’ll apply the same commitment to a dog’s care.
Once you’re sure your children’s desire for a pet isn’t just a passing fancy, sit down with them and make sure they understand what tending a dog entails. Outline feeding schedules, walking schedules, how much time and love a dog needs, and how expensive it will be. Help them understand that having a dog is not something to be taken lightly—it’s an enormous responsibility, and it takes a whole family to raise a puppy or integrate an older dog into an established household.
Involve Them in the Decision
Let your children know that their feelings and opinions are valid. Don’t brush them off or ignore their request. If a dog really isn’t a viable option, make sure they understand why. Give them a chance to prove their willingness to tend to a dog; don’t just assume they aren’t capable without a fair trial. Communicate with your children, and let them know where you’re coming from, and then give them a chance to explain why they want a dog and what they think it would contribute to your home. Listening to their reasoning will help them feel validated, and if the ultimate decision is still a no, at least they’ll know why.
If you think you know your children’s minds better than they know their own, give their request a test run. Take them to a pound or kennel three or four times and let them play with or volunteer with the dogs. Seeing what it takes to care for a dog first-hand might be enough to cure them of their desire for one of their own…or make them realize that that is really what they want. Some dog kennels in Edmonton will let you take a “foster dog” home for a time—another option to consider that might help your children make up their minds.
Take Them Shopping
Once you’ve established that your children are truly ready for a dog (and it’s an addition to the family you’re willing to make), take them with you when you go shopping for pet supplies. Let them help you pick out collars, treats, toys, bedding, fencing, and a kennel so that they feel the weight of their new responsibility. The more involved they are, the more likely they’ll be to embrace their new duties as everyday routine instead of treating the dog as a fun new game that they can abandon at a moment’s notice.
Caring for a dog is a huge responsibility, and it’s up to you as the parent to make sure that your children are ready for it. Wait until you’re sure that they’re up to the task, and then offer them your trust and enjoy your new pet!
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via Ildar Sagdejev
Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose family is her pride and joy. She and her family recently bought a new Golden Retriever puppy, and equipped their backyard with the help of Lynx Fencing. She loves spending time with her family, being outdoors, and playing sports.