Top 8 questions to know if your kids are ready for a dog

Getting a puppy, last updated 10th, Oct 2020, DogSpot

We love all things dog. In our endeavour to bring education to pet parents, we collaborated with Shalaka Mundada, Canine Trainer & Behaviorist.  Shalaka specialises in Human-Animal Interactions with focus on children- helping them understand pet ownership and responsibilities. In conversation with Anand Vishwanath, Founder & Pack Leader- Anvis Inc. she discusses key questions when making a decision to make pets a part of your family. Read on more insights.

A dog is one of the largest responsibility animals across all the options of household pets. We always want to find a balance between our children wanting dogs and practically preparing them for the responsibility. Dealing with our children who want to bring home a dog is a very complicated process.

While they have very real reasons to bring home a dog, parents are usually skeptical about the new duties. We now have specialists to openly speak to children and understand their background story for wanting a dog.

It is important to expose children to routine activities such as – feeding a dog, picking their poop, sometimes getting saliva on hands, and even the behavioral quirks of a dog. A deeper look into a child’s behavior concerning some icky aspects of dog-keeping is also important. Our decisions are impacted by many factors; therefore, some universal truths need to be known beforehand.

Here are some FAQs on pre-pet education:

1. How do I know if my child is responsible enough to take care of a dog?

Have an honest discussion with the child about what they are willing to compromise and give up from their daily routine to make time for the handling and care-taking of the dog. Observe your child’s level of interest and comfort while performing all the required activities such as feeding, walking, picking up the poop, etc. You will be able to tell whether they are ready for a dog and to what extent can they be responsible. 

2. How do I find a perfect dog for my children?

Keeping the breed and age of dogs aside, it is important to understand the family dynamics. Also, analyze what kind of experience the parents had with dogs in the past. We should try to understand the level of activities that can be provided to the dog. 

Everything that the dog needs - activities, enrichment, training, and bathing – if one can come up with a full proof solution to offer everything, then any breed is good for the home.

The important task is to address the mental and physical stimulation for the dog. Analyze the daily routine of all family members and understand the schedule of the children.

3. What are the real things that change with dog ownership?

Your house is going to smell different. Dog owners don’t realize this as they adapt to the scent, but when we bring dogs home there is a distinct smell. Even your car will be different. Cleanliness will become a challenge. The dog may have a stomach issue at night because of which there will be poop/ vomit sometimes when dog owners wake up.

The financial expenses – medical and food costs rise for families. Exercise needs have to be taken into account. The stimulation need is a very real need for different dog breeds.

4. How can we sensitize kids to dogs?

If you have dogs in the society/ area, you can start sitting around them. You can take some treats to feed the dog and attempt to feed them with your hand. You can also try to go for a walk with any dog owners around you. You can also join in a training session for dogs. Maybe visit a vet clinic and spend some time observing dogs.

5. Is there a pre-planned program to help make the decision of bringing a dog home?

Yes, there is a pet sibling program. This is done after the first level of interaction with the whole family. Taking a decision is difficult and this program buys some time to think things over. This program is a practical approach to discovering how a child will behave around a dog. 

In this program, children of ages between 10 – 18 are made to spend one whole day in the life of a dog. When you start the program, you are given 3 dogs to handle. The child has to feed the dog, take the dog out for a walk, clean the poop after the dog, and also clean the kennel.

The program also exposes an untrained dog to children. Scenarios are planted and children visualize the real-life situations they will face with the dog. When they face these realities, there can be a proper assessment. 

6. How can children overcome their fear of dogs?

It is as simple as how we taught them how to ride a cycle. Or, how we dropped our kids to school without them turning back and wanting to come back home with you. Children will overcome their fear of dogs through a desensitization process.

You can start desensitizing them by introducing them to better behaved dogs. You may take your child to a senior/ adult dog and let them spend some time around them. Or find a calm dog to sit around your child. Avoid small puppies as their teething will be sharp and painful for children.

7. Is there a correlation between highly observant children and their seriousness to take care of the dog?

Children ask a wide variety of questions. They even notice the number of nails on the dog’s paw or even the design of the dog’s ears. Their questions are usually different about different dogs. The curiosity in them will always drive them to observe.

Observational learning is a big part of the process but not limited to it. Activity-based questions, such as exercise requirement or barking habits, which are not directly about the physical aspects of dogs are equally important questions that children ask.

8. Is there any gender bias against female dogs?

There is no difference between male and female dogs’ behavior. They are equally loving, energetic, and active. We should know in advance the various aspects regarding the heat periods and spaying/neutering.

It is essential to share in-depth knowledge about the female dog, for instance, pseudo-pregnancy is something one should know about beforehand. recently went live with Shalaka Mundada, Canine Trainer & Behaviorist in conversation with Anand Vishwanath, Founder & Pack Leader- Anvis Inc. She founded PetSitters, a premium boarding kennel in Pune in the year 2008. 

She is a Certified Trainer and Behaviourist. She has handled over 5000 dogs till date in her career spanning activities such as- boarding, swimming, agility, canine enrichment, and behavior corrections. 

She has been working with Human-Animal Interactions for the most part of her dog career- Focus being children- working with them alongside to get them to understand pet ownership and responsibilities.

We hope we answered all your queries regarding the topic. In case you have any further questions about the topic, please feel free to leave it in the comments below. An expert will be happy to guide you! 

Transcribed by: Prekshita Patwa

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