As a parent, you may have already heard “can we get a dog?” from your children and that is why you are reading this. First off, good job to you for taking the time to research this! A dog is not a toy. It’s a living and breathing family member that requires attention his / her entire life. One idea to find out if your children are in fact ready for this commitment is to sort of practice dog ownership. What? How can you “practice” that?
There are a few things that you can do to demonstrate what’s involved with owning a dog. You want the intended owner to be prepared.
Enforce a sample routine of what life would be like with a dog.
To demonstrate one of the most important basics of what is involved, wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal, and take your kids for a walk of least 15 minutes. Build your kids up to going for a 30-minute walk before school, as well as doing so everyday in all kinds of weather. Repeat this at different times of day. Let them know that you are simulating potty breaks and the basics of exercise that dogs need.
This should not be a punishment, it should be fun. For your walks, find neighborhood destinations where dogs are. Maybe local parks, dog parks and the like. Meet other pet parents and encourage your kids to ask questions. By encouraging socializing, you are also exposing your kids to the importance of socializing that a dog needs. Socializing your dog is critical to his / her behavior.
During this process, your kids will see dogs and surely dog parents picking up poop. Explain the importance of picking up after them. Explain the importance of analyzing their poop. Explain that your dogs poop is one way to know how your dog is feeling.
Along the way, you’ll make friends that may allow their dogs to be sort of surrogates. Your child can stop by and check on the dog, play with the dog, learn dog walking and more.
Ultimately, if you and your kids survive this practice phase, your kids have done so with none of rewards of dog ownership and that is to be applauded. They have yet to experience the love that they would get from their own dog. They have yet to experience having a true buddy and friend. They have yet to experience any of the beauty and magic that comes from being a dog parent.
While “practice makes perfect”, perfection is not required, just a willingness to work together and figure things out. The truth is that your dog will do most of hard work.