My family has had a pet ever since we were old enough to ask for one and make an empty promise that we will take care of it, all by ourselves. Personally, I am a dog person and always have been. I grew up with dogs and not being greeted by a wagging tail when I get home just feels weird.
4 years ago, me and my husband were expecting our first child. We have a lovely beagle who liked to snuggle in bed with us. As my pregnancy progressed I was worried how we will make it with a kid and a dog. I was freaking out about germs, about safety, about having the time to satisfy the needs of a dog while having a new role as a mother.
Having passed probably the hardest years of having a toddler and a dog in the same apartment, I can tell you a few things about the subject. Every kid is different and in the same way every dog has its own personality and needs. Every family has a different dynamic and lifestyle, so things will be different in every house.
Kid and dog – the Pros and Cons
- Your dog will have to go out every day, at least two times a day. I am talking cold cold winter days, and I am talking hot summer days. Holidays, rainy days.. Dog owners know this very well. We live in an apartment so we don’t have the option to let the dog in the backyard when it’s very cold for example. This also applies for the days your child will be sick, or you will be sick. This is non-negotiable and if you are thinking of adding a dog to your family while having younger kids, please be aware and warned. For the guys that already have a dog, well.. you already know :).
- You will have extra cleaning to do. Especially when the baby gets mobile and spends almost all day on the floor and stuffing everything in his mouth. I was super freaky about this part. I was paranoid that my daughter will eat a dog hair (the chances are she probably had, by the way), and I was very committed to having the house relatively clean so this doesn’t happen.
- Your dog will probably wake your child some times. Parents know how important sleep is, and how things go from bad to worse when your kid misses a nap. And how hard it can be to get your child to nap. That is when your dog will decide to bark. Loudly. To a stuffed bear that suddenly scares him. You will be pissed. The baby will cry and wake up. And life will go on.
- Only few places are kid and dog friendly. So you will have to think of ways how you can be outside and have the kid and the dog with you so everyone enjoys the sun and fresh air.
- Safety. It’s the parents responsibility to keep everybody safe in the house. Statistically most kids are bitten by a dog they are acquainted with – home pet, neighbor’s pet etc. Most of this cases happen when a dog is approached while it is sleeping, eating or something of that sort by a child, or when a kid and a dog are left unsupervised. Kids don’t have the ability to read dog’s cues and to know when to back off. And they are not well known for respecting personal space, which can be a trigger for some dogs. Your kid will learn to crawl and walk around your dog and will probably try to use it to keep balance. Not every dog will be happy about this, and it is up to you to keep your kid safe. You should never let a kid and dog unsupervised. You never know what your kid is up to, and you can not expect the dog to be more than, you know, a dog.
- Your kids will have a companion all the time. What ever your kid does, the dog will be there too. Playing? Your dog will be there to steal a toy. Eating time? You bet the dog is sitting by the high chair waiting to catch every bite your kid throws away. Going for a walk, running in the park, playing in the dirt.. They will probably drive you insane since none of them will stop whatever you ask them to stop doing :).
- Your kid will learn compassion and responsibility. You have probably heard this one and it sounds generic. But it is true. My daughter started saying sorry first and foremost to the dog! It has been a year later when she started saying sorry to me, if she kicked me or something of that sort. She always insist that she comes to the vet with the dog. She always “helps” when I need to give medicine to the dog. My daughter puts food in the dog’s tray and puts fresh water for him regularly. There was an incident when our dog was bitten by a tiny angry neighbour’s dog and my daughter was talking about this with her 2 years old friend for two days. I don’t fully understand the psychology behind this, but your kid is gonna learn to care about someone else’s needs by “caring” for the dog.
- Your kid will have health benefits by growing up with a dog. Kids growing around pets and farm animals are less likely to develop asthma or allergies, for example. There are a lot of studies that state the health benefits of living with a dog, especially for young kids. I am no specialist in this area, so I won’t be talking about this, but you can do your own research on this. Note: Since there are cases of dog allergies, if you are considering adding a dog to your family, please check if your kids might have be allergic first.
- Families with dogs usually have a more active life. There was a doctor that suggested that having a dog pet will make your kids more healthy by the sole fact that every day you have to go out with the dog at least twice and you are probably gonna take the kid with you. Hiking, walks are all kid and dog friendly activities, and you are probably gonna do them very often. So as a bonus you get less screen time, more physical activity.
- Your kid will learn uncoditional love. I was scrolling through my facebook pictures, and as you are guessing all of them were kid and/or dog pictures (yes I am the person that clogs everybody’s feed with pictures of my kid and my dog). I came to a picture when my daughter was less than a year old and had a fever. My dog was by her side, and she would stop crying and settle with him in the bed.
Your dog will become an essential part of your child’s life because dogs are well known to love you no matter what. And kids really feel this bond. Your dog will be with you on your best days and on your worst. They are gonna greet you with a wagging tail every single time you come home and if that is not love, I really don’t know what is.
My Quiet Spot