Santa brought our boys Maltipoos for Christmas. Yes, they EACH got a puppy. Many parents ask me how it is going and whether or not I recommend getting a puppy for a toddler and preschooler. What parents want me to tell them is if their family is ready for a dog.
Previous to making a decision to get the boys dogs for Christmas I read a ton of articles to try and answer this question for us. I too wanted to make sure we were ready to get a dog before we took the plunge. Most of the articles and research I read said to wait until a child is around age 6 to get them a dog.
Considering the number of times I read this, you would think I would not have been as surprised as I was at the chaos the pups brought to our home. Lord. Have. Mercy. After 4 months I am just now starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I am beginning to feel like things have started to calm down some. I’m not sure if the dogs and kids have improved, but the weather has! Therefore, the pups get to spend more time outside. I was asking myself daily, “What were we thinking? Not about ourselves that’s for sure!” Now it’s not quite daily.
So, you too may be wondering if your family is ready for a dog!
Only You Know If Your Family Is Ready For a Dog
I can not answer this question YES or NO because every family dynamic is different. Age of kids. Parents patience level. How you expect an animal to be treated. How well your child’s self-control is developed. So on and so forth.
What I do feel like I am capable of sharing at this point is some questions that Chris and I have brainstormed. I told him that I get a lot of questions about the dogs. So we decided to sit down and create a list of questions we should have asked ourselves and made a plan for before Santa left the pups. Questions that would have helped us make a more informed decision. Things to think about that would have made for a smoother transition.
In all honesty, we had puppy fever. I’m not sure anything would have brought us to our senses. But I’d like to think that it would have lessened the shock of the chaos that was about to become the norm around here!
10 Questions Parents Can Ask Themselves When Deciding: Is Our Family Ready For a Dog?
#1. What developmental stage are your children in?
- Developmentally my children are at the stage where they can only focus on 1 thing well. It should not surprise me when the dogs are on the loose, the boys act as if they have no idea I’m even speaking.
- Find out what you can expect from your child here. If you have younger children, pay close attention to facts 3, 4 & 5.
#2. How much time can you devote?
- At the beginning especially.
- It takes quite a bit of training and modeling for your kids how to behave with dogs and vice versa.
- It is said that if you have to potty train the dogs, expect to take them out every 20 minutes and give them a treat when they do their business.
- Will you use a kennel?
#3. How often are you at home and who is home the most?
- Whoever is home the most is who is going to be giving more physical and mental energy to the dog/kid situation.
- Whoever is not home the most should be supportive and empathetic to the partner who is.
#4. What size of dog would work best for your family?
- Now that I have talked to others, it seems this area is pretty black and white for puppies and kids.
- A small dog means the kids will dominate and you will have to worry about the safety of the dog.
- A medium to a large dog means that the dog will dominate, so then parents are worried about the dog jumping on their kids, knocking them down, scratches, etc.
#5. How much time can the dog be indoors and outdoors?
- Think about the approaching season you will be potty training in.
- The weather will affect how much independent time the dog spends outside.
#6. How much time will your family be tied to other commitments? Think 3 to 4 months in advance.
- a busy season at work
- running to extracurriculars for kids in the evening’s
- Is a sporting season fixing to start? Gone on weekends?
- Can dogs go with you at times?
#7. Have you researched the dog? Read the research and comments and believed it?
- Most of what we read has been right so far.
#8. How much space do you have to give to the puppy?
- At certain times of the day, you may need to keep the dog and the kids separated, but the dogs still need to be able to roam. Can you partition an area of your home?
#9. Do you realize how much puppies teethe?
- A lot. They need plenty to chew on or they will chew on the kid’s toys, items in the house, the house or YOU!
- Be prepared with a variety of teethers that can be kept here, there and yonder, so they have something to chew on.
#10. Should you get a doggy door?
We are considering this now. If I had it to do again, I think I would have gotten it right away after Santa left the dogs?!
Call to Action
Chris and I feel that your family will have a good plan and a good idea of what to expect (as much as possible) if you take the answers to all of these questions into consideration. I hope you found something here that helps you out if you consider adding a dog or 2 to your family!
Like anything else, it takes kids and adults for that matter, a little time to adjust to change. I started to see some light at the end of the tunnel, and I am excited about the relationship the boys are building with the dogs and the responsibility they are gaining.
To be notified when new posts are made and receive the weekly newsletter, subscribe to This -N- That Parenting List.