It seemed like a good idea at Christmas. The children are older now and my daughter has begged for a "Yorkie" for three years in a row. But by February, we were seriously doubting that we had made the right decision adding a dog to our family.
I forgot the round-the-clock attention and care that a baby requires, even if it is a dog. It's certainly beyond the ability of a child to care for a dog, no matter that she promises to do all the feeding and walking if you'll just "please, please buy her a dog".
At five months, the puppy's favorite game is "run and cuss". He picks up something he knows he is not supposed to have and runs away from me as fast as he can. I chase after him like a fool, cussing and yelling, "Drop it!" Oh, it's great fun.
Then last week while I'm eating lunch, I see that he has my sunglasses. Instead of running after him, I told him in my most serious voice that I was not getting up and he better just drop it. To my amazement, he dropped the sunglasses and looked at me. I grabbed a treat and praised him. Then, he ran off and found something, came to my feet and dropped it again.
Now that "Drop It" is his new favorite game, I have hope again that we can get through the rough times. He's still learning, and he really love bacon-flavored treats.
I've learned that it makes more sense for a family with kids to adopt or buy a dog that is past the puppy stage. Housebreaking a puppy is very time consuming, and the puppy's needs most often require adult attention.
Different breeds have their own benefits and drawbacks. Our Yorkie doesn't chew up shoes or furniture; but he's an inside dog, so housetraining was a challenge. He's active and playful, but prone to get into trouble without lots of attentive play.
A large outside dog is no problem to housetrain, but will need plenty of protected running room outside. He's notorious for chewing everything in the house. Our lab ate an entire plate of freshly made divinity from the kitchen counter in an instant one Christmas.
If I haven't convinced you to put off getting a dog, these sources will help you choose the right dog and make it through the first few months.
- How to Love Your Dog: A Kid's Guide to Dog Care Let your older child start here to prepare for getting a dog.
- Finding the Right Dog for Your Family Breed selector tool at Dog Breed Info Center
- Choosing a Dog for Children Advice from VeterinaryPartner.com
- Choosing the Right Dog Articles at Dog Owner's Guide
- Selecting the Right Pet for Your Family - Children and Pets Advice from U.S. Humane Society
- Dog Breeds That Are Good for Children Informed opinion from Jennifer Brooke
- Be a Responsible Dog Owner Good advice for your new dog from American Kennel Club
- Kids and Dogs: Safety First Dog Owner's Guide
- Training Dogs to Mind Children One of several helpful training articles at Dog Training Advice
- Pet Care Free Online Videos Learn pet care skills from the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- About Dogs - Training and Behavior How to train your puppy and deal with problem behaviors
- Dog Behavior and Training Helpful articles at Petfinder.com
- How to Train a Dog to Play Frisbee A great game for dog-child interaction. One of the many good dog training articles at Pet Care Tips