Monday, December 18, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Don't get a pet to prepare for parenthood

Q: What do you think about getting a dog as a "test run" for having children? Some family members got a dog of a breed that sometimes has medical issues, and my relatives have put a lot of time and money toward his health. Now that they have a child, their patience and budget are wearing thin.

Pooch is a good dog, but has become increasingly needy as attention has been redirected to Kiddo. Is it common for the dog to end up on the back burner after the children arrive? Do most dogs react this way? Is the dog-as-test-child practice unwise?

Dogs vs. Kids

A: Dogs as test-children are a terrible idea. You get a dog because you want and can care for a dog.

And you shop carefully for a dog with health and other needs in mind. Some dogs that are popular or particularly cute can be terrible choices for inexperienced dog handlers, for budgets, for homes with small children, etc.

As for whether most dogs get needy, I'm going to sound snotty but I don't mean to: People can avoid these problems by paying attention to the dog. Yes, the baby will suck up a lot of time, but families routinely marshal the resources for subsequent children or other responsibilities, and pets deserve no less. Assuming responsibility for a living thing means you pledge to meet its needs for its lifetime.

If Baby or Dog has unusual needs, then the humane thing might be a new home for the dog. Not a shelter dump, except as an absolute last resort (eviction, risk of harm to the child).

Again — bring a dog aboard for its own sake, after thinking through everything from suitability of the breed to exercise and grooming needs to skill of the owners, etc. I'd advise children first, and then adding a pet once the home scene is stable.

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