‘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’
‘It’ll get us outdoors and away from our computers’- always a winner!
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 it can help teach children a sense of responsibility, kindness and empathy from young children to teenagers.
Another given is a dog provides companionship and can encourage exercise and more family time with a real sense of purpose. It 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 worn off.
Feeding, exercising, training, socialising and companionship are all a part of dog ownershipAnother consideration 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 hardly going to create a great bond between them. Conversely some puppies/ dogs can be very unnerved and frightened by a screaming tantrum. Ok so let’s assume everything s been discussed and the decision ‘ s been made ‘We are Getting a Dog’.
Then the real questions start!
Which breed will suit our family and lifestyle?
What size of dog will be best ?
Is a puppy the best option?
Would a rescue dog be a good idea?
A dog or a bitch?
And that old chestnut whatever shall we call her/him?
We will be addressing all of these issues and many more in the coming weeks. For now, though, I would recommend the following books to start your journey on understanding the wonderful world of dog ownership:
A great companion to puppy owners to help them understand the do’s and don’t’s.
This book helps you see what dogs see and think how dogs think. It’s less of a instructive book, more of a exercise in empathy.
(Eileen is a National Canine Agility competitor, owner of of 3 dogs and mother of one.)