There are loads of benefits to having a pet as a child – it can help learn responsibility and how to treat animals with kindness, can help build confidence, and can offer a great playmate. With a dog, there is also the added advantage that the pet will need lots of walks, which will help keep your child active. If your child has expressed an interest in having their own dog, or perhaps you had a dog as a child and would like to give your own son or daughter a friend they can bond with in the same way, then getting a puppy could be a great idea. However, it is best to evaluate whether your child is ready, or whether it is better to wait until they are a little more mature to introduce a dog into the family.
How Experienced is Your Child in Being Around Animals?
With very young children, although you will have to consider the dog as mostly your responsibility until the child is old enough to be trusted to do things like feed, bathe and walk the dog by themselves, a puppy can still be a great addition to the family, and lots of good company for your child. However, in this case you need to assess how comfortable your child already is around animals, so you can be sure they won’t be afraid of the puppy, or act over zealously, resulting in one or both of them getting hurt. If other family members or friends you see regularly have dogs and your child is comfortable petting them gently and playing with them without hurting them or doing anything that might make the pet react badly (like pulling on their ears or trying to ride them), then they are probably confident enough to deal with a puppy, after a talk about how baby, untrained animals differ from the adult dogs they know.
How Responsible is Your Child?
Some kids can handle small amounts of responsibility at a young age, and though you probably won’t be expecting a young child to do things like feed the dog by themselves to begin with, you need to know that if you tell them to do something small for the dog’s well being like let him outside and watch him, they can be trusted to actually do it!
Choosing a Puppy
There are endless different dog breeds and always puppies for sale, and some are better suited to life with young children than others. Do some research and find a breed that suits your family, and then look around in your local area to find breeders and see their puppies for sale. A rescue animal can also be a good option but you will not in that instance be able to choose the age, breed and size of dog you may want most, so when considering a first dog for a young child, a puppy from a well researched breed can be the safest choice.
There is no set age when all children are ready for a dog, but if you yourself are interested in getting one as a family pet, talk to your child about it and think about whether the time is right.