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3 Things to Consider When Your Child Asks for a Dog

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"Mom, can we get a dog?" This is a question I remember asking my mom, and my child asks me the same thing. There are times when owning a dog isn't feasible: allergies, money is tight or you live in an apartment where dogs aren't allowed.

These are all easy decisions: "Sorry, we can't get a dog right now."

But when you decide that a dog is a great addition to your family, there are a few other things to consider.

1. Dogs Make Babies Healthier

A great argument for getting a dog is that studies show dogs actually make babies healthier. Finland's Kuopio University Hospital followed 397 children over a three-year period. The parents of the children kept an in-depth log of the children's health and found that children that lived in households with dogs were:

  • 29% less likely to have to use antibiotics

  • 44% less likely to suffer from ear infections

  • 31% of infants were healthier in their first year

So, from a health perspective, dogs can actually help your child. And if your spouse is on the fence about getting a dog, this is also a great argument to present.

2. Your Home May or May Not Be Pet-friendly

Dogs are far different than cats. Cats are independent and don't need as much care or consideration as a dog. Your home may not be as pet-friendly as you think. A few things to consider are:

  • Energy. There are lazy lap dogs and dogs that need exercise. Energy level plays a huge role in ownership. A Siberian Husky needs to run, so you might want a more relaxed dog in an apartment. Consider energy when choosing your family's new addition. Cesar Millan has a great article on the subject.

  • Yard Space and Fencing. If you have a yard, your dog will want to play in it. Do yourself a favor and fence in your yard. "Color chain link fences provide the corrosion protection of zinc in addition to the durability and attractive appearance of polyester framework and extruded polyvinyl chloride fabric. Chain Link fences define property lines, enclose animals safely, and add value to any property," states Better Decks & Fences. You can also opt for an electric fence.

  • "Start up costs." Yes, there are things your dog will need, depending on age. I recently adopted a three-month old puppy, and the expenses have been far greater than I ever assumed. I had to buy a crate, dozens of toys, spend money on vaccinations and shots, and the vet just quoted me $354 for neutering (on the low-end). Factor in food and other items, and I'll have spent over $1,000 in the first five months of ownership. You can find cheaper options, but know that there will be substantial costs in other areas. Look for local groups or humane societies that may offer many services for cheaper than a vet.

3. Research the Breed

If you have a deck, a dachshund should be kept in confined spaces to ensure they don't jump off. Since 25% of the breed has back issues, this is important to know. But I didn't know this when I got my dachshund, and she jumped off her bed, had to be confined to a crate for three months, and was paralyzed from the middle of her back down for weeks.

My negligence was the cause of her pain.

If I had researched the breed prior, I would have known what to expect as an owner. Conduct your own research and find a breed that's a perfect fit for your family and lifestyle.

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