If you're a parent of young children who's been toying with the idea of bringing home a furry friend in the form of a puppy, you've probably already weighed several of the more obvious pros and cons of the situation. For instance, you know that certain breeds, such as Labrador retriever puppies, are better suited to family life than high-strung breeds such as border collies and Irish setters. You also likely know that, except for very small toy breeds, dogs do better when they've got at least limited access to the outdoors, such as a small yard or nearby park.
However, whether or not you decide to bring a dog into your household isn't entirely dependent on the breed of dog or even the individual dog in question — a lot of it depends on your child, and you as well. Asking yourself these three questions will help you determine whether or not the time is right to bring a puppy into your home:
Will Someone Be Able to Stay With the Puppy Most of the Time?
Even though it's not at all unusual for families with dogs to leave the animals alone during the day while they fulfill work and school obligations, young puppies should have at least one family member at home with them during most of the day for at least a couple of months. Young puppyhood is an extremely important time in a dog's socialization, and being left alone too often and for too long can result in a dog that's never really properly socialized. The socialization period for most breeds is between seven weeks and four months.
Do Your Children Help Around the House?
If your children are already helping around the house, it'll be much easier for everyone to share the chores involved in dog ownership. Many children promise to help out with a new puppy, but parents often bear the brunt of the animal's care once the novelty wears off. Children who are helping around the house are more likely to stick with it because they're already familiar with responsibility.
Do Your Children Interact Well With Other People's Dogs?
How your children interact with other people's dogs is probably the best indicator of how ready they are to welcome a little furry friend into their own lives. Are they kind and gentle with animals, or do they pull ears and tails? Make sure to watch them with other people's dogs before coming to a final decision.