My son John with dog, Henry.
My son John with dog, Henry.

It happens the second you pass by the window of that pet shop, you’re holding your kid’s hand, rushing them ahead before they can look into the eyes of the puppy barking at you to stop, but before you can do anything they’re looking up at you with bright, sad eyes.

“Dad, can we get a puppy?”

Before you say no, thinking about the vet visits, dog food prices, holes being dug in your backyard, I want you to take some time to consider the benefits to you and your child if you say yes, and let that puppy steal your family’s hearts. As someone who has bred St. Bernard’s, and someone who raised my son with a puppy sibling, I truly believe that these benefits could be worth your while.

Dogs can teach your children responsibility. I know, I know. Your child offers to take care of the dog, but you know the majority of the responsibility is going to be on you. But this doesn’t have to be the case. While you will have to be responsible for taking the dog to the vet, and double-checking that it is fed, groomed, and walked regularly, these tasks can be assigned as chores to your child as an agreement upon getting the dog. Your child will learn responsibility in taking care of another life, and will teach them the importance of keeping their word. Whenever they want to skip out on a walk or are going to be late to their friends house if they have to pick up after the dog, you can remind them of the agreement they made.

Dogs can be loyal companions to only children, children with disabilities, or any child struggling with loneliness or fitting in. Petting and interacting with dogs has been proven as a stress-reliever, and will provide comfort to children no matter their circumstances.

John & Henry2

Owning a dog can lead to a more active, healthier lifestyle for your child. Dogs require getting out of the house for walks every day, running around playing ball, and overall getting up and outside rather than sitting and playing video games all afternoon. The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne even claims that owning a pet leads to lower levels of obesity, lower risks for cardiovascular diseases, and fewer minor illnesses and complaints than those without pets.

Overall, owning a dog will lead to general happiness in your child’s life. They’ll always have a happy animal to cheer them up when they’re in a bad mood, give them the feeling of being needed and wanted, and for the rest of their lives they will have memories of the furriest member of their family. I know my son will forever cherish his memories with our St. Bernard, and I will always cherish my memories of the two of them together.

So my recommendation, take a moment to look into the shop window. Go visit your local animal shelter. Maybe just do a trial run with taking care of a friend’s dog for the day. However you go about it, don’t say no to the idea of owning a dog just yet.

Did you grow up with a dog when you were a child? Is it something you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!