Does Your Family Have Room for a Dog?
Before you bring a dog home, you have to consider all the other members of your household. If you have children it will be an extra challenge. Households with children must take extra care before making the decision to purchase a dog—and in deciding which breed is appropriate. A rambunctious puppy may be overwhelming to a toddler. A miniature breed may be treated like a stuffed toy rather than a living creature. It may seem fun to the child to dress up their new canine companion in doll clothes and wheel him around in a stroller but it’s not good for the dog. Training may be more difficult since you’ll have to train both the child and the dog.
Similarly, if you have other dogs in the house or cats, you have to decide whether your current pets will accept a new member of the pack. Some breeds have instincts as predators that make conflict with a cat highly probable. If you adopt an adult dog, you have to find out whether that dog is friendly with other dogs—before you bring him home.
If you take your dog to the dog park, observe the breeds he typically plays with and those that he might have a conflict with. This can be a clue to guide you in selecting your new dog. You may be in for a surprise as well. Your cocker spaniel may prefer to run with the bigger hunting dogs instead of dogs his own size.
Consider your neighbors as well. Some breeds of dogs are relatively calm, quiet, and easygoing. Others are energetic “barkers” who sound an alarm whenever a noise or passerby disturbs them. Training is important to help your dog to be a good neighbor, but you also have to objectively look at where you live and whether a given breed will be a nuisance to the people nearby.
All family members need to agree on the decision to add a dog to the household, and each member should have input into the type of dog you eventually select. Your children may have met and interacted with their friends’ dogs and be able to provide valuable input.
If you’ve never had a dog before, or at least not since you were a child, try taking care of a friend or neighbor’s dog and reacquaint yourself with the responsibility and care required.
And it may well be that when all factors are considered, it may not be the right time to add a dog to your family. Maybe a pet that requires less care, attention, and supervision might be more appropriate.
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