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Dog's come in all shapes and sizes - out of all the dogs you've ever met you've probably been more attracted to some breeds than others. Perhaps you had a dog when you were growing up and want the same breed for your children. But more needs to be determined than breed or size when choosing a family dog.
How do you choose? What do you need to know? Here are some questions you must ask when choosing a dog for family life:
How old are your children?
If your family is still young, especially if you still have preschoolers, it is prudent to consider whether your family should have a dog right now. Are you planning (or expecting) other children? Dogs require a fair amount of attention and if you have small children not only will you have less time to train or play with a dog, but you may have more difficulty trusting your dog or your children without your constant attention.
If you are still certain that you want a dog and you have the time, consider the training and age of the dog. Perhaps a well trained, older dog would be more suitable.
How much do you know about dogs?
Think taking care of a dog is a no-brainer? Well, if you have children you don't have the luxury of allowing your dog to train itself or wander the countryside. You must read or ask someone knowledgeable about the needs and training a dog requires.
If you're not up to the task you'll have to locate a trainer that will work with your dog as well as train you and your family how to deal with the dog. Many bad habits that dogs pick up come from lack of consistent training rather than the dog being troublesome.
Are you ready for the financial obligation?
To have a healthy dog you must plan for the costs of vet bills, vaccinations, flea and worm medication, grooming and training. Do you travel? Either you will need to arrange for care or pay for a dog sitter or kennel when you're away. Thinking of buying a large breed? Find out the food costs in advance - if your budget is already tight you may be shocked at the cost of food for large dogs.
Do YOU want a dog?
If your children are young then hopefully you recognize that you or your partner must be willing to handle the burden of day-to-day care such as feeding, walking, training and cleaning. But what if your children are older and capable of more responsibility? You still need to factor in that the dog may live 10-15 years or more (depending on breed). Who will take responsibility for the dog when the children go to college or get married?
Owning a dog has wonderful benefits that you and your children will enjoy. Research continues to show that individuals benefit emotional and physically from owning a pet. But there is more to owning a dog than selecting the prettiest or most popular breed.
Shannon Emmanuel is a freelancer writer and the author of 'How to Choose the Best Dog or Puppy for Your Children'. Get a free report at http://www.best-dog-breed-for-children.com
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