Photo: Renee Leblanc
Two years ago, we decided we were ready to introduce a puppy into our family. Austin, our eldest, had been asking for a dog since he started talking (his first word was “doggy”) and we had promised him we would get one around his seventh birthday. We wanted to wait until he was old enough to really help out. Fast-forward to now and we can’t even imagine life without our Goldendoodle, Daisy. She has brought so much joy to our family and has helped to teach our kids about responsibility.
Getting a family dog is a big decision. If you’re thinking about getting one, you’ll want to weigh out the pros and cons before welcoming a new furry friend into your household.
Consider asking yourself these three questions:
Ask yourself if getting a dog is something everyone is ready for. Has everyone in the family been tested for allergies? Are you financially prepared for this investment? There is a lot that goes into taking care of their health. Dogs need to be spayed or neutered, they need vaccines, deworming…and the list goes on. Your dog’s health is important, so be sure to speak to your vet about the costs involved and what you need to do in order to protect your potential new family member from parasites such as ticks, fleas, intestinal worms and heartworm. You can also visit ParasitePolice.ca to learn more about these dangerous pests and others that you'll need to protect against.
With your kids’ sports and extracurricular activities, family travel and just life in general, does your family have the time to give to a puppy? They require a lot of attention, training and love, which means you need to be available for them. Make sure you have enough time to give a puppy the love and attention they need. After all, they are part of the family.
If you’ve considered all of the above and your family is ready for a dog, it’s a good idea to talk to your kids ahead of time about their responsibilities in caring for their new puppy. By doing this in advance, you are setting the expectation that they need to be helping out. This will also ensure that there are no surprises when you bring your new dog home.
Before we introduced Daisy into our family, we sat down with our kids and talked about what role they would each play in caring for her. Dogs need lots of exercise, so our kids would have to walk and play with her every day. They need to be fed and given fresh water, brushed and groomed, cleaned up after (yes, we are talking about those smelly presents on walks and in the backyard) and the list goes on. When we talked to our kids about this, it actually got them more excited to welcome Daisy home which assured us that we were making the right decision for our family.
It’s important to decide each child’s task based on their age and ability. While our three-year-old may not be old enough to hold the leash while walking, she is responsible for putting water in Daisy’s dish in the morning and helping brush out her fur. Our boys’ daily tasks are to feed Daisy, hold the leash when we take her out for a walk and play with her in the backyard.
The kids have all really enjoyed helping out with Daisy and I think they’ve learned that it’s a team effort to take care of her. Owning a dog has taught them a great deal of responsibility which has also helped with their own self-care. It’s made them realize if you don’t groom and take care of your dog, your dog starts to get smelly which isn’t appealing—a lesson they can apply to themselves. Introducing Daisy into our home has really promoted family bonding, too. One of our favourite things to do together is to go on walks and just talk about the highs and lows of our day. Having Daisy around has really made our family close-knit and I think talking through everything as a family before we got her made the transition easier when we brought her home.