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Dogs as Pets for Children
Many people have fond childhood memories of having the company of the family dog. Dogs have not been known, for generations, as man's best friend for nothing. Many children would love to have a dog of their own - particularly if they see cute puppies for sale.
But children are not aware of the work involved in bringing up a puppy, nor of adopting a dog which perhaps has behavioural issues. Pppies grow into a teenage phase, which can be hard to manage if you're already juggling your life around your children.
So there are definitely pros and cons to bringing a dog into your home, and each should be considered carefully before you take the plunge and bring in a new pet which will be totally dependant on you for food, exercise and day to day care for up to 15 years (or occasionally even more!). In many ways it's like adopting another child.
There is something about an open fire and a dog lying in front of it! Dogs are generally known as man's best friend, and they certainly can be a child's too!
Dogs are a wonderful pet for a child encouraging exercise and giving companionship. Dogs of any size can add to a sense of security in the home, as they will usually bark to warn you of a visitors approach.
But it cannot be forgotten that dogs are high maintenance pets. They need to be fed and regularly exercised. Muddy footprints will come into your home unless you scrupulously wipe their feet after they come in from the garden. Unlike cats they do not bury their mess, and you will need to clean it up from the garden (not a pleasant task!). And when you take them out for exercise you will need to carry poo bags to dispose of their mess responsibly.
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and you can get a breed which will match your lifestyle although careful research is needed to make sure you are not just buying on looks without considering temperament (or in the case of long haired breeds, exactly how long it's going to take to maintain that look). Some dogs are lower maintenance than others - both in terms or how much they cost to feed and the amount of exercise they might like. More information can be found about different types of dogs on our Pedigree or Cross Breed page.
So is a dog a good pet for a child? Until your child is at the age when s/he can understand road safety, and you can allow them out on their own without worrying you cannot even think about them being responsible for the dog's exercise needs. Although, dependant on where you live, dog walking is normally quite safe, the person in control of the dog will need to be able to cope if an aggressive dog approaches for example, or be able to hold onto the lead (without being pulled into the road) if a cat appears on the opposite pavement. Even small dogs can be very strong if they spy something they want to chase.
What this adds up to is that you, as the adult, will need to take it for walks! And this usually means twice a day. Every day. Whatever the weather!
Do Dogs make Good Pets for Children?
Dogs are not toys. With young children it is difficult for them to understand the difference, and whilst some dogs may tolerate being pulled about, put into dolls prams etc, others won't, and may retaliate in the only way they know how - with their teeth! Sadly, when a dog bites a child it's the dog that gets blamed, but all too often the child was the aggravator. Some dogs have very high tolerance levels, and children should be carefully watched to make sure they don't take things too far. Pulling of the ears or tail, dressing dogs up etc. may reach a point where even the most placid dog suddenly snaps.
Great care should be taken to watch when dogs and young children are together - don't leave them unsupervised, and make sure the dog has somewhere to go that it can call it's own and be left undisturbed. Teaching your child that the dog's bed belongs to him and when he's there he needs some time to himself is a great start.
Treated well a dog can become your child's best friend, and they can be inseparable. They can teach a child responsibility. Children can be involved in the care of a dog - in it's feeding and exercise, and can learn a lot from having one in the family. Accompanying parents on vet visits, observing flea and worm treatments can start many discussions and lessons.
When all's said and done, nothing rewards a pet owner in quite the same way as a dog. The care, love and attention you or your child give it will be returned in spades - and that's an excellent lessons for a child to learn.