‘Please Can We Have A Dog?’

How many parents hear that request and, after much prevarication, finally succumb to the constant badgering?

‘We’ll look after it! Promise!’

‘It’ll be great fun.’

‘We’ll all get so much more exercise, Mum.’

And, the winning plea…

‘It’ll get us outdoors and away from our computers!’

Much of the above may be true but there are a number of questions to be addressed, first:

Obviously, there are huge benefits to having a dog in the family. They can help teach children and teens kindness, empathy and a sense of responsibility.

Another given is that a dog provides companionship and will encourage more exercise and therefore more bonding family time. They can teach the need for consistency and routine, but with a hearty measure of good fun!

Conversely, owning a dog is a huge responsibility and commitment and Bonny or Tessa will still be bounding around, chewing and stealing snacks long, long after the initial excitement has died down and the novelty of cuddling a pup has worn off.

Feeding, exercising, training, socialising and companionship are all a part of dog ownership. Another factor to consider is the age of your child or children: an over-exuberant puppy with a curious toddler can be a hellish combination. A slightly unsteady child being constantly knocked over and mouthed is may not create a great bond, just as some puppies/ dogs can feel nervous and frightened around a screaming tantrum.

So, assuming everything has been discussed and the decision has been made and yes, ‘We are Getting a Dog’…

Then the real questions start!

Which breed will suit our family and lifestyle?
What size of dog is best for our garden and living spaces?
Is a puppy the best option or an older, trained dog?
Would a rescue dog be a good idea?
A dog or a bitch?
And whatever shall we call her/him?

We would recommend the following books to start your journey on understanding the wonderful world of dog ownership:

Perfect Puppy

A great manual for puppy owners to help understand the do’s and don’ts.

The Dog’s Mind

This book helps you see what dogs see and think how dogs think. Less of an instructive book, it’s more an exercise in empathy.

(Eileen is a National Canine Agility competitor, owner of 3 dogs and mother of one.)