Too Young For A Puppy?

Dear Mamas,

We are thinking about getting a dog for our son who is turning five in August. He loves animals and I think it would be a good way to teach him responsibility. My husband thinks he is too young. Who’s right?

Danielle

Dear Danielle,

A pet can be a wonderful addition to any family given that you have space, time, and family members who are wiling to do the feeding, the walking, the training and the playing. It’s kind of like having a kid. Lots of work and lots of fun. BUT….a 5 year old is definitely not ready to take on this kind of responsibility by himself and should not be expected to do so. He’s not old enough and is incapable of caring for a living, breathing being without a lot of supervision and help.

Having said that, getting a pet can be a great way to introduce him to the idea of caring for others and also to get him started on doing a regular, daily chore or two. He can help with the feeding and can walk the dog (with a parent) and play catch with him outside. Most likely he will come to see his pet as his friend and will no doubt enjoy the unconditional love and companionship that a dog can provide. BUT he cannot train the dog, or care for him when he is sick, or be responsible for keeping him safe and fed. That will have to be up to you.

If you decide to go ahead, look for a breed that is even tempered and good with kids. Make sure that YOU are willing to make the commitment and include your son in choosing and naming the dog. Then make sure that you teach him to be gentle and kind to his new pet. No teasing or pulling on the tail allowed. After all, the dog is a person too!

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.


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2 responses to “Too Young For A Puppy?”

  1. Michelle

    Continuing on the “too young” topic, when are kids old enough to get an allowance? And how the heck do we find out what the going rate is these days?

  2. BEST Dog Breeds for Kids

    […] more information about kids and pets, take a look at Too Young for a Puppy?, a past MOC post, and another from KidsHealth.com.  Email This […]

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