Cape Town - For many families with young children, to dog or not to dog (as a pet) is the question. A dog’s love knows no bounds, but a dog is not for everyone.
Having a puppy is like having a newborn and your child and the family will need to be prepared for the responsibility that goes with it. If you are going to be the only one pulling your weight regarding feeding, training, cleaning and walking, you will develop resentment and it is not fair to the pup.
THE PROS AND CONS
* Unconditional love for your child: Some days all any person needs is positive energy, a warm hug and someone happy to see them. No matter what, your child can be sure that he will come home to someone who welcomes him with a wagging tail and an affectionate paw.
* In-built home therapy: Dogs have a natural calming ability. Dogs are used as a way of working through depressive episodes and post-traumatic stressors.
* Safety reasons: South Africa is not the safest country and having a dog adds a greater sense of security to a household.
* Saving a life: By giving your child a dog you could be saving one from a shelter, or a potentially abusive or neglectful environment.
* Big responsibility: Your child will learn that they need to make a commitment to caring for the animal.
* Allergies are an inconclusive drawback as children can either grow immune to the allergen or the allergy can get worse after repeated exposure.
* Potential danger: You can never be certain of the temperament of your child’s pet. He could be aggressive or sickly and this can be huge cause for concern if there are children around.
* Expense: Vet visits, vaccines, food, medication, treats, toys and other stuff.
* Organisation: If you are type-A personality or in any way an obsessive compulsive with cleanliness, a dog is not an option.
This was difficult for me at first but I am using it as a way of starting to “let go” of the need to perfect the environment around me at all times and to “just be”. Children calm down when we are innately calm. By living in the moment and enjoying the current course of events, they will too.
* Lastly, dog poop: No one likes waking up to “toilet duty”.
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER
l What does your child hope to get out of the relationship?
* What’s is your child’s stance on exercise?
* Is the child ready for the long-term commitment?
* Are you ready for the financial responsibility?
* Does your child have time to spend with the dog every day?
* How much destruction will you put up with at home?
* What will your child’s life be like in five to 10 years?
* If the family already has a pet, will that animal be able to accept the new pup?
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BREED
Every breed has its drawbacks and potential. Whether it is shedding hair, calm demeanour, hyperactivity, frequent grooming, and clever and caring nature.
The most popular breeds with children are the following:
* Labrador retriever: friendly, easy to train, caring and gentle.
* Bulldog: playful, sturdy
* Poodle: hypoallergenic:
* Beagle: hunting, clever and cheerful
* Collies: gentle and predictable
* Lee Koetser is a qualified remedial therapist with more than 10 years’ experience.