A dog is a lifetime commitment: how to convince your kids that they dont NEED a puppy right now

If you happen to have kids who are not completely obsessed with the idea of getting a puppy, you are extremely fortunate. Most of us mums and dads have heard it a million times before. The begging, the guilt-tripping, the promises, the older ones regularly sending you pictures of potential pups to pull your heartstrings.

Lockdown accelerated this pressure it seemed, as thousands of families felt the time had come to make dreams come true. Moral support was needed, and a canine companion seemed to be the antidote. The school run now features hundreds of fluffy tails wagging frantically amid the sea of schoolbags and scooters. My daughter and I walk each morning and never before has she had the opportunity to pet so many pooches in such a short time. Each one - adorable as they are - is an ever-present reminder that as a family, we are not in a position to provide the time and energy it takes to raise a doggo at the moment.

As my daughter’s life seems to revolve around getting a puppy, I began to research effective ways to say no. I want her to understand why a puppy wouldn’t be suitable in our household, no matter how much she wants one. As many parents are in the same pup-less position, I thought I’d share my findings.

You are not going to convince your brood that puppies are not cute. They are in fact, simply adorable. However, if you break down the tasks and explain what the commitment requires, your kids will hopefully start to see how much work is involved and how a dog might not fit into your family life right now. Here are a few things to bring up when your kids ask for a dog…again.

Poo

Dogs poo constantly. People with dogs spend a good chunk of their lives picking up faeces. There is no choice about this. What’s more, is that pups poo everywhere. In bedrooms, on carpets and even on countertops if you’re not careful. If you are not willing to pick up the poo every day for the rest of your dog's life, getting a dog is not a good idea.

Exercise

Dogs require a lot of walking, depending on how big they are. If you do activities after school, study hard or enjoy a social life, a dog will get in the way of this. You must be willing to take time out of your day to make sure your dog is walked. This could mean giving up a sport or waking at 5.30am to fit your dog’s walk into your busy schedule.

Time

You cannot have a dog if there is no one in the house from 8 am - 6 pm. A dog cannot be left inside alone for this long unless they miraculously learn to use the loo unsupervised. Also, you cannot take your dog on a plane when you go on holidays. Your dog might not like long car journeys. You need to be willing to alter your plans for the summer etc. based on your dog's needs. This one applies particularly the older ones or the teens in your house who want a dog but will not give up the time to look after one.

Dogs are forever

Your puppy will turn into a dog and live for up to 14 years. Many people do not understand this concept and lose interest in the upkeep of their pet after the excitement wears off. It is not uncommon for families to choose to give up their dog because they cannot give them the time and love they deserve. This process can be traumatic and unfair on both the little ones and the dog. 

The bottom line is that you must fit your day to day life around a dog’s needs…not the other way round. Hopefully, you can reason with your puppy-obsessed child and they will be understanding. 

With her daughter Evie as her muse, Anna writes about mumhood and all its intersections from mental health to movies, social issues to pop culture. Anna lives in Dublin with her daughter, partner, three younger sisters and parents. She is a dreadful cook, a fair guitar player and thinks caffeine should be given as a yearly vaccine to parents - courtesy of the HSE.

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