Choosing a Family Pet, Part 1: Dogs

Family enjoying a picnic with their dog

Most children want a pet, pets can offer a lot to a family and children in particular. Potentially children can learn to take responsibility, learn about compassion and, of course, get a lot of pure enjoyment out of a pet, whether it is their own or shared with the rest of the family.

Which pet is right for your family depends on a lot of factors including your children’s age and your’s so here is what you need to think about when considering each of these pets.

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Dogs

Cost: the initial cost can be as much as a £200+ donation for a rescue dog, but puppies from reputable breeders, even for popular breeds, can cost £1000+. Staffordshire Bull Terriers can make great family pets, and as we discussed in a post a little while ago, many desperately need homes so the expected suggested donations may be a lot lower.

There is a lot you will need to buy straight away including dog beds and blankets, dog toys, a cage or harness for the car, a good lead and probably some training aids and a good book if you are a first time dog owner. On-going costs are higher than almost any other pets in this series of posts and we recommend you buy adequate pet insurance (£5-£30+ a month), dog food will cost around £25+ a month including treats but this will be less for small breeds and a lot more for larger breeds.

Puppies Find the right breed to fit your family and lifestyleespecially can have destructive habits so be prepared to replace some of your furnishings and other belongings! Mongrels and cross breed dogs are less likely to have health problems than pure breed dogs as are dogs bred to be working dogs rather than pedigrees so do consider how this will impact on vet costs and insurance costs.

Time requirements: a puppy usually needs more time than an older dog and different breeds require different amounts of exercise and grooming, which for some will take up to an hour a day. Consider looking into lower maintenance dogs such as basset hounds but all dogs need some exercise every day. An older dog may need even more time and attention; don’t assume as they get older they can be left for a long time just because they like to sleep more and walk a little bit less. Some elderly dogs with specific problems will need care all day so this is something you should plan for.

man walking his pet dog

Other requirements: ideally you’ll need a good sized garden, the bigger the dog the bigger the garden, you also will need to remove or put out of bounds any dangerous items from the house, think open fires and bottles of bleach, and in the garden, think poisonous plants.  Also think about how your dog will affect your holiday plans, kennels can add to your holiday costs significantly and some dogs really dislike them, especially if they don’t like being around other dogs.

Pros: dogs can be great friends and companions to everyone in the family and will become a part of the family in a way other pets won’t. They will see the rest of you as part of their pack and become very loyal as a result.

Dogs involve a lot of work including grooming, walking and training but if you have children old enough to help out (and who are willing to help) it can be a good chance for them to learn responsibility.

Also a dog can get the whole family more active: even on rainy days you will find yourself out walking and playing with your dog so if you aren’t prepared for this then a dog may not be for you!

Cons: dogs can’t be left and forgotten about for days. Dogs need a lot more than just feeding and you will be lucky to find a dog who is happy to be at home alone all day while you are at work and school, even with two or more dogs keeping each  other company. They are therefore best for those at home during the day or those who can at least pop home at lunchtime, however, a young puppy should ideally not be left alone even for this long as you leave them at your risk; puppies can be very destructive not least when teething.

There's a wide chouice of dog breeds to choose from

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