A look at what should be considered before getting a dog or other family pet. When does adding a family dog make sense to a young family? My parents first got a dog when I was about three years old. I grew up with a golden lab affectionately called ‘Ubu’ and she was there for me all the time. I have so many fond memories with her from running around the yard, to cuddles on the floor to taking her down to the beach. Not only was she a great companion to me, she also taught me a lot of lessons. I learned about friendship, responsibility, patience, obedience and even death because of my pink nosed friend. After thirteen years by my side, it was a very sad loss when she went to doggy heaven. A month or two later we got a new dog, but she largely became my Mom’s dog as I was leaving home for University a few years later.

As an adult, I’ve always wanted to have a dog of my own, but this never came to fruition due to financial or lifestyle conflicts. I wanted to make sure I could properly dedicate myself to them as I saw this as only fair. Now, having a mortgage, a yard, the time to dedicate as well as having two little kiddos of my own, I’m wondering if now is the time to add a dog to our family. My wife’s instinct is no, as according to her we aren’t around enough to dedicate time to a puppy. Later this year, I will be around full time, but I do question if adding a puppy into the equation with five or six month old twins is the right option.

While I want my kids to have the same experience with pets, especially dogs, as I did, it doesn’t seem like they would get any long lasting value in a dog for another few years. Maybe my parents were right to wait until I was older, maybe my wife is right to wait until we don’t have our hands as full, but doggonit they are so cute and I can’t wait to share the experience of pet ownership with my kids.

When do you think children should be introduced to pets and vice versa?

Here are five things to consider when making such a big decision around adding family pets to a young family, or any family for that matter.

  1. Do you have the space and room needed to give the pet the most enjoyment and freedom?
  2. Are your children old enough to take some responsibility for the pet?
  3. Could you pick up the slack if your children don’t take on the task of keeping a family pet?
  4. What steps do you need to take to make a dog/pet a productive member of the family?
  5. Is the breed you want good with kids and happy to be a bit independent when need be?