Reasons your kids should (or shouldn’t) have a dog; the challenges and benefits of owning pets

Over the past week or so, we’ve had two members of our immediate family conspicuously absent, but I must admit: I don’t really miss them, my husband doesn’t really miss them, and Q doesn’t really miss them. K, however, is a different story – she hasn’t noticed or voiced concern about them missing, but it’s only a matter of time, and once she realizes, she’ll miss them.

We have two dogs. Two border collies. If you’re familiar with the breed, you’ll know that border collies are pretty smart. USUALLY. One of our border collies is pretty smart, but the other is as dumb as a bag of hair.

Maybe not as dumb as THAT.

I didn’t grow up with dogs in or outside of the house, and I developed a fear of them because of that; my little brother, on the other hand, developed an intense love of them (despite the many bites he received over the years) because of that. Lesson: You never can tell how kids will respond. K gives our dogs hugs and kisses many times a day, but Q tries to (and occasionally does) hit them. Q isn’t a fan of their licking, stealing food, or getting in her way (much to her dismay, they aren’t inclined to move when she walks toward them).

Having pets brings many benefits and challenges, but I’m not quite sure the benefits outweigh the challenges for us, so I’m considering having a pet-free household for a while (after they’re not around, that is).

For us, benefits of having pets include:

  • Companionship. K especially loves playing hide and seek with the dogs. They’re her friends, and they’ll never betray her. Also, she loves to cuddle, hug, and kiss them.
  • Mental health. Well, maybe not for me, as that ship has long since sailed, but my husband and K love them immensely. Q loves watching them play, but she’s not crazy about interacting with them herself.
  • Dishwasher. Post-meal pre-wash of dishes (this freaks some people out, but seriously, the dishes are about to be washed in the dishwasher, so what’s the difference?)
  • Consideration. The kids want to give their quadruped friends treats; they’re eager to feed (and sometimes overfeed) them. Even Q, who most of the time refuses to pet or hug them, loves to feed and treat them.
  • Responsibility. Caring for pets requires a certain level of responsibility that can change depending on a child’s maturity. My three-year-old’s favorite pet-related chores are filling their water dish; my 18-month-old’s favorite is giving them food (she wants to do that multiple times a day).
  • Physical health. If we ever walked them, we may see some health benefits of owning dogs; we might have to take them for walks now that we don’t have a fenced yard, though, so that might work for our physical and mental health.
  • Protection. Who needs pepper spray when you’ve got two dogs that would fight off a would-be attacker to the death? I’ll just have to be sure to bring K & Q with me if that happens, because I’m SURE the dogs would protect them – I’m just not so sure they’d protect ME.

And the challenges of having pets include:

  • Time. We just don’t have the time to walk them as much as we should. Or ever. So there’s the guilt that comes with that. At our soon-to-be “old” house, we had a fenced yard with plenty of space for the dogs to run, but our new neighborhood doesn’t have fences at all. All yards are open, and one of our dogs is VERY prone to running away, so I have no idea how this is going to work out – or even if it will. Stay tuned.
  • Food. If the girls leave ANY food unattended for longer that 0.2 seconds, the dogs will get it (if they want it); this includes dangerous-to-dog foods like grapes, chocolate, raisins, etc.
  • Germs. One of our dogs (the dumb one) licks everything incessantly; the other one only licks (and bites, and pulls at) carpet. It’s not only annoying, but also supremely disgusting, to (a) step on the always-wet spot in front of your favorite spot on the couch and (b) feel a slobbery dog tongue slide between your toes when you know that tongue regularly licks poop off of its lips.
  • Tripping hazard. One of our dogs is ALWAYS in the way, and she’s not at all bothered by the fact that everyone steps over her, or nudges her to move, or asks her to move, or lifts or drags her a few inches to the side so they can squeeze past her long, listless body. You know when you do that “which way are you going?” dance in tight hallways to get around someone? That’s this dog. She always zigs EXACTLY where you’re going, and zags EXACTLY when you do.
  • Baby/kid hazard. Picture this: a toddler that’s just learned to walk gets run over by a speeding-bullet dog jumping over the couch; the dog knocks her over flat onto her booty, then bonks her head. Wouldn’t you expect the kid to cry? Thanks to our dog, our kids don’t cry at those situations. K will get up and proudly proclaim, “I’m okay, I’m okay;” Q just gets back up without a care in the world – she doesn’t even have to say anything about it.

All in all, I guess they’re worth it, but we still might take a little break from owning pets every now and then. They present a lot of challenges, but in the end, they’re worth it. Don’t you love/hate the idea that you’re a pet’s WHOLE life, but the pet is only PART of your life? Sad but true.

Anyone have both kids and dogs? What would you add to this list?

Have you seen The Secret Life of Pets? Which character is your favorite?

I am Chloe – no one that knows me would ever argue with this fact.

5 thoughts on “Reasons your kids should (or shouldn’t) have a dog; the challenges and benefits of owning pets”

  1. I really got a kick out of this as my husband and I are currently in outs with our pet. We have a cat, but somewhat similar. Our son loves her, but my oh my it can be a handful caring for her as she is surprisingly a needy feline LOL. I have definitely been victim of the tripping hazard. But I agree, our son will definitely learn responsibility in feeding and caring for her. Great breakdown!!!

  2. We don’t have any pets at the moment. With three young boys in the house, it’s already chaotic and messy. I think they would love to have a dog, but it would be me that would do all the work. I’m not quite ready for that yet. Maybe when they get a little older. Thanks for pointing out all the benefits and challenges!

  3. What a great article! Gave me a lot to think about.

    In my home, we are all longing for a pet, but can’t have one just yet due to the amount of care and attention they require. I can’t wait till the day we adopt one though… definitely when my kids get a little older and when we have a fenced yard…

  4. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or unnntsraedidg more. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this info for my mission.

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