Little kids don’t need reasons to get a dog. All they know is that they’d like to have a new, furry member of the family. But as a parent, you want to make sure that when you get a pooch, you’re ready for the realities and responsibilities.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore the following five reasons to get a dog. Quite the contrary. If you’re feeling the pull to adopt a puppy or adult canine, you should definitely consider it. Pet parents and families can gain a whole lot of benefits from having a dog in the house, including improved stress relief and better management for those dealing with mental health worries. And plenty of people have that kind of stress in their lives.
Nevertheless, you’ll want to make sure that you recognize that despite all the reasons to get a dog, you do need to be prepared to own the tasks. Dogs are not dolls or furniture. They require loving care and companionship. They need to be taken outside to go to the bathroom frequently every day, and they will cost money to feed and nurture. Vet bills can run high if a dog has health problems, too.
Again, these realities aren’t meant to dissuade you from taking the reasons to get a dog to heart. They’re just truths to keep in the back of your mind. Plus, they’ll help you determine if having a dog is a feasible choice at the moment. For instance, if you’re planning to relocate across the country in a couple of months, you may want to put dog adoption plans on hold.
Of course, if you’re sure that you want to explore the multiple reasons to get a dog, read on. The five top reasons to get a dog are listed below in detail. Happy wagging!
Increased opportunities to get outside and exercise
Your children could benefit cognitively and socially
Caring responsibilities can be divided among family members
You and your family members could enjoy many mental health benefits
You can depend on companionship when the family’s away
Increased Opportunities to Get Outside and Exercise
Be honest: Have you been complaining about putting on too much weight? Do you know that you should get outside for fresh air, but rarely put shoes on to do anything about it? Would you rather spend time exercising outdoors than in a gym? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these you probably would love to befriend a pooch.
Dogs go to the bathroom outside, but that’s not the primary reason you should take them out at least three times a day. Dogs use their time to investigate the world with their eyes and noses. If you’ve ever done a day of dog sitting duty, you’ve probably noticed how pups rely on their sniffers. They love to stop and smell everything from lamp posts to mailboxes and bushes to fire hydrants. At the same time, they mark their territory to indicate their presence for future canines who pass by the same way.
All this walking of a dog shouldn’t be seen as a chore, however. If you truly want a pet like a dog, you’re going to have to accept that dog walking will become a part of your daily routine. And it might just make your doctor pleased, especially if you’ve been in need of a better exercise routine or have dealt with increasing blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Knowing all this in advance, be sure to talk to your family members about walking the dog you’re considering getting. Will you divvy up the responsibility? Or will all the walking fall on one person? There’s no one right solution. It all depends on your family. For instance, if an adult in your family works remotely, the adult might be in charge of taking the dog for a quick walk in the morning and at lunchtime. But another member of the family, such as a middle schooler, might take over walking duties later in the day or around dinner time. Again, how you structure the walks is up to you.
Don’t forget that this is a chance for you to get some activity as well. When you’re discussing which type of dog to adopt, keep that fact in mind. Some dogs love to run, which might be an incentive for you to begin training for your community’s one-mile run in the park or a 5K in a nearby city. On the other hand, plenty of small pups are satisfied with a quick walk around the block and can’t handle much more.
At the end of the day, this is one of those reasons to get a dog that’s going to be highly advantageous to you if you do everything right. Just be certain to invest in all-weather walking gear for the dog walkers in your household. Dogs need to be taken out in the rain, sleet, and snow as well as when the sun’s shining and the breeze is delightful.
Your Children Could Benefit Cognitively and Socially
Are you interested in hearing about reasons to get a dog that pertain to the younger family members in your home? Research shows that kids who grow up with pets, including pooches, can benefit emotionally and academically.
Why would dogs have that kind of an effect on children, preteens, and teens? For starters, being close to a dog and engaging in some of the pet care duties makes kids feel more responsible for and close to another creature. They naturally develop a sense of empathy and camaraderie. Many children go through phases where they feel like their pets are more than animals. Indeed, some think of them as their furry friends in a quite literal sense.
From a brain development perspective, dog ownership requires that kids develop skills to problem-solve. Anyone who has ever lived with a pooch knows that dogs can sometimes cause chaos. What do you do when your dog gets anxious and chews on the vintage table legs when everyone heads out the door? How can you get your dog to go on car rides after you experienced a parking lot crash that required a small dent repair but caused your pooch to fear vehicles? These are all questions that kids can help answer, or try to answer. And when they brainstorm suggestions, they’re working on many different parts of their gray matter.
If you have a son or daughter who has special needs or is going through a particularly rough patch, befriending a dog could be a lifesaver. Dogs don’t care what people look like. They give unconditional love, which is what a kiddo could need more than anything else. To be sure, one of the reasons to get a dog might just be that your pediatrician thinks it’s a good way to help your struggling youngster feel better inside and outside.
Caring Responsibilities Can Be Divided Among Family Members
Before officially adopting a dog, you’ll want to talk more about who is going to undertake various tasks associated with pet ownership. Will mom do all the dog grooming while kids do the pet walking? Who is going to choose a veterinarian and schedule visits? How is the dog going to get meals, and from which member of the family? Or will these chores rotate from week to week depending upon everyone’s busy schedules?
In an ideal world, this would be one of those reasons to get a dog that could get everyone in your household working together and collaborating effectively. Unfortunately, far too many moms and dads end up taking on all the dog care tasks themselves. And the kids begin to drift away from learning how to properly care for a pet.
If you haven’t gotten your dog yet, have numerous long discussions with everyone in your family. Think aloud about who will end up tackling things like cleaning the dog’s ears or clipping its toenails. Is someone going to be the point person for all the walking or bathing? Are you going to set up a calendar so everyone knows that the dog’s being well cared for?
Try not to underestimate the importance of everyone doing his or her part in taking care of your family pooch. The more you can share the responsibilities, the easier the experience will become. When only one person in a household does all the work with the dog, the dog can become a point of contention. “The dog’s mine, after all. You don’t do anything and I do everything.” You can’t afford to let what could be a wonderful opportunity for family togetherness to turn into arguing or bad feelings.
One caveat: Very young children and even those in the first few elementary grades should not be given many dog-related responsibilities. Yes, they can pet and brush the dog, and probably give the dog food and water. But small kids should not be asked to take medium-sized or large dogs for walks alone. That would be like asking a kindergartener to install residential oval ducts as replacements in your home. Not going to happen! Children also shouldn’t be held responsible for more difficult chores, like giving the dog a proper bath. Therefore, encourage them to be active helpers, but don’t make them point to people.
You and Your Family Members Could Enjoy Many Mental Health Benefits
As previously touched upon, having a dog can encourage myriad mental health benefits. Certainly, pet ownership should never take the place of getting professional help for problems like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. Nevertheless, becoming a pet parent can work in tandem with therapy and taking prescribed medications for mental health conditions.
How would this work in the real world as one of the reasons to get a dog? Let’s say you’re divorcing your husband. Even if you’re the one who initiated the divorce, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed. You might also begin to wonder what you’re going to do from day-to-day. In order to give yourself a sense of constancy in such a frustrating, emotional period, you could adopt a dog. Being responsible for the dog would help you regain a focus and renewed purpose. Rather than giving in to the temptation to stay in bed all morning, you would have to walk your dog. Consequently, you’d be doing something good for yourself while taking care of a primary dog responsibility.
Truly, dogs have a wonderful ability to bring up your spirits when you’re feeling down. Even if you’re not clinically depressed, you might be having a tough day. Being able to spend time just petting your pooch can calm your heart rate and help you realize that no matter what, you’re loved unconditionally by your four-legged pal.
Another way that dogs positively affect mental health is that they offer sometimes amusing distractions. To be sure, dogs can be downright comedic! Watching a dog chase its tail can cause you to laugh out loud, which may help your mood go from zero to ten in a flash. Laughter and happiness are part of dog ownership, and they’re also conducive to happier mental health states.
You Can Depend on Companionship When the Family’s Away
The fifth of the biggest reasons to get a dog is that a pooch can become a dependable companion when you’re alone at home. This could just mean that you have a furry buddy by your side while you’re working virtually. Or it could mean a companion when your spouse and kids are away for a weekend but you have to stay at home.
Never underestimate how nice it can be to have a pooch at the door to greet you when no humans are around. Plus, if something unexpected happens and you find yourself alone at the house for longer periods of time, you can always count on your dog to provide you with some company.
Many older couples whose children are leaving the nest or have already left the nest end up getting a dog for this very reason. It’s not that they necessarily have always wanted to become pet owners, but they’re at a stage in life when they don’t want to feel on their own when they’re the only one on their property. From a practical standpoint, owning a dog with a husky or intense bark could make sense for aging people living together. After all, the dog can provide some form of protection. Yes, it can be embarrassing when the dog goes crazy when the shingle repair contractor visits to examine the roof. However, it’s nice to know that a loyal canine’s keeping the household secure.
So is it time for you to take the plunge into full-fledged pet ownership? Have the reasons to get a dog listed here totally swayed you? Before you head online to find a local dog house construction service, you may want to give pet ownership a trial run through fostering a dog through a local no-kill shelter. That way, you can test out whether or not a dog is the right addition to your home without having to make a lifetime commitment. And you never know: The pup you end up fostering could be the perfect fit after all and become a companion for life for you and your household members.
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