Bringing a dog up with children is truly magical!! BUT it can also come with lots of challenges, chaos, hard work, training, and lots of planning ahead of time. If you are thinking about bringing a puppy or a dog into your family home and are wondering, when is the right time to get your family dog? Keep reading!
For those who know me, know that I love puppies and I love babies and toddlers! That is why my job is what it is. BUT, as adorable and divine as puppies, babies and toddlers are – they require SO much time, love and attention from us! When I advise my clients about when the right time to get a dog is, what I am really trying to do is to help set them up for success. I never want to be the bad one to tell you not to get a dog. Rather, I want to be able to help you to give your puppy the best possible start to life. Because a puppy that has the best start to life, should grow up to be a beautiful family dog. My goal is to make things as easy and stress free as possible for you and your family.
Having a puppy in the house is pretty much like having another toddler. You need to watch them, teach them, sleep train them, toilet train them, feed them, exercise them, the list goes on and on. I actually wrote an article that compares puppies and toddlers! People need to be aware of this before making the commitment, rather than realising they can’t manage and then the puppy ends up in a shelter.
Are you thinking about getting a dog…?
There are SO many positives that come with owning a dog for both parents and kids. It is a proven fact that dogs make people happier. They teach you how to care for something other than yourself, they keep you fit and healthy, they always get excited when you come home, they keep us company and they give us unconditional love. They can also help our kids in so many ways!! In saying that, a dog is certainly not for everyone. And I have seen firsthand what can happen when someone takes on a dog and it doesn’t work out. It can be heartbreaking for both the dog and the owners. The timing of when you decide to get a dog is incredibly important.
Ideally any family looking to get a dog should wait until your youngest child is around 5 years old.
The older your kids the better… Why?
Because they listen, follow instructions, take directions, and can actually get involved with the training, daily activities and fun games that come with owning a new puppy/dog. Plus a child of this age is more predictable and able to engage safely with the new puppy/dog.
If your children are younger than five and you’re reading this, don’t feeling disheartened, I am coming from a good place- I promise! I want you to be able to love and care for you child and give them the undivided attention that they want and need. Bringing a puppy into a home when you have a baby or a toddler, is going to be hard work and you may not be able to get the most and the best out of both of them. I’m not saying it will be a disaster, but it is something to think about. I want you to enjoy your baby and/or toddler. And I want you to enjoy your puppy/new dog. Having them both together, can make it quite challenging to really be able to enjoy both. Trust me, I have seen some of my clients really struggle with this!
Thinking about getting the dog before having kids?
This is what we did! Cooper was two when we had Harper and it was perfect for us!
Waiting until your puppy is 1.5-2 (or older) before bringing a new baby home, is ideal. I know this is easier said than done as things happen. The first year or two of a dog’s life is really all about getting through that puppy stage; they require a lot of hard work, training, and socialisation in order to become a beautiful family dog.
Dogs are a lot of work, especially as a puppy! On top of all the training, there’s the time commitment of walking your dog daily, making sure you are home to feed your dog, visits to the vet, grooming and the fun job of cleaning up all the poo. Dogs are social beings, and they require plenty of attention, affection and mental stimulation too. If they become bored, they may become destructive. Dog can also be incredibly costly! You’ve got the initial adoption or purchase fee, dog food and treats, pet insurance, vet bills, equipment, bedding and toys, plus holiday care for your dog when you go away. And trust me, it all adds up. Then you put children in the mix too and yes it can be beautiful, but it can also be total chaos.
So, waiting until your kids are the right age and/or waiting until your dog is the right age, will just help to make things easier on you! And will give you that opportunity to truly enjoy your baby/toddler and puppy the way they are meant to be enjoyed!!
Before getting a dog ask yourself these questions…
- Is your lifestyle suitable for a dog? Do you work full time, and very long hours? What will you do with the dog all day? Do you go away often?
- Is the whole family committed to this dog, for at least 15 years (sometimes more if you are lucky!) and helping to train it?
- Is your house set up for a dog? Do you have space, the right rental agreements and a safe yard?
- Are you able to take some time off when you get the dog to help it settle in? As a trainer, I think this is important.
- Do you have the time and patience to invest in training? This is an everyday commitment for the first few years and requires ongoing attention to set yourselves up for a successful life together.
- Do you have the budget for a dog? Dogs are expensive!
- If you have children already, is your youngest child five? Waiting till your youngest is 5 will make the whole process so much easier.
- If you don’t have children already, are you planning on having kids? Plan wisely. A dog age 2+ will be easier to manage with a baby than a younger dog.
- Do you have the time to exercise your dog? Dogs need daily exercise. A tired dog is more likely to be a well-behaved dog, so this is important. Not just on those warm sunny days, but also throughout winter. So, you need to be prepared for this.
- Are you prepared for the mistakes your dog might make? i.e. chewing your favourite shoes. Puppies are just learning, so we need to be patient with them. Set them up for success. But there’s sure to be a few accidents along the way. Don’t be fooled, adult dogs can also get bored if not exercised or stimulated enough and become destructive too.
- Do you really want a dog? Are you doing this for you or for your family? If you are going to be the one looking after the dog, you have to want it too.
If you can’t answer yes to majority of these questions, then maybe right now is not the right time for you and your family to get a dog.
Don’t get me wrong, owning a dog is one of life’s greatest joys. But you need to be ready and committed to it. Kids and dogs together is a whole other ball game to just owning a dog. So you need to be prepared for the juggle that comes with it. The joy a dog brings to a family is truly magical. But so much hard work needs to go in first to ensuring this happens. Supervision and management will be essential when kids and dogs are in the mix.
If you have decided that you’re up for the challenge, ready to put in the hard work then go for it. Along with the chaos, a new puppy is guaranteed to bring absolute pleasure and joy into your lives.
Just make sure to do your homework – adopt a dog from a shelter or find a reputable breeder. Never support puppy farms. A new article is on the way too about why this is so important!! I’ll make sure to share it when it’s up. But you’re always welcome to reach out too and I can help with this if you need.
And, if I have totally confused you now and you’re still unsure of what to do now, please get in touch so I can help you with making the right decision for you and your family.