"Puppy Purchase for 9 Year Old."

Updated on February 23, 2014
T.R. asks from Grand Prairie, TX
31 answers

Hello all....

I would like some advice on whether or not I should purchase a Puppy for my 9 Year old Daughter? She's going through a very rough period right now. My Ex and I Divorced almost 2 Years ago, he is moving out of State, along with her Grandfather. My oldest Daughter (her Sister) moved out of State a month ago as well (along with my Grandson). My Daughter's Best Friend is moving as well.

She is going through a bit of a Depression, and It breaks my heart to watch her. She no longer likes school, and just wants to come home and get in bed each day. She was once very active, but doesn't want to do much. She just started Counseling.

I work full time 8-5 m-f, and feel bad about leaving a puppy alone all day. My girlfriend who recently lost her mother, told me that it (Buying a Puppy) worked WONDERS for her little girl going through the loss of her Grandmother.

Things are tight already with just my income.

What should I do????

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answers from San Antonio on

i like the cat (kitten) idea, they use a litter box (so you shouldnt have to worry about little "messes" everywhere)
Cats are very indepenant so being alone 9-5 is no big deal for them.
I have 3 dogs, 2 outdoor 1 indoor, but my MIL lives with me and does not work so the dogs are never alone, but I would hate to leave my little indoor dog crated up all day.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Do not get a dog. He will be alone all day. He needs to be walked, trained, trips to vet. Very expensive. So not fair to a dog. Give the counseling time to work. Try and get her involved in after school activities. Give her time!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Give the counseling some time. YOU are the one who will end up taking care of the dog if it isn't the magic bullet to help her. And it's not fair to the dog if it doesn't work out and you can't take care of it.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Philadelphia on

When we lost my husband my little guy went through a terrible time. Depression at any age is hard but when they are young its 10000 times worse for them but also you! Puppies are wonderful additions to families but they can also bring on their own kind of depression. Puppies need to be trained and what happens when the puppy has an accident or doesnt quite get it... your daughter could put that blame on herself and make herself feel worse. Puppies are sweet as babies but most also tend to stick to one person a little more and what happens if it attaches to you instead of her...not saying dont do it just be sure to look at it clearly.
My son is just like me a huge animal lover but he wanted a puppy so bad. I was tempted until we took a trip to get fish food and petsmart was having an adoption fair and there they were... my life savors! Two 7 week old sibling kittens. I am not a huge fan of cats but he sat on that floor and was lost in their playfulness. Needless to say they came home with us the next day and I have never once regretted it. We set up two litter boxes ploped them each into one and that was all she wrote. No accidents! They have both had their share of wet salty tears from one of us crying on them. The girl tends to think she is queen of my bed and I let her. But the boy is about the best friend anyone could ask for. They are easy to care for and their monthly expenses are not bad. Once a year trip to the vet and thats about it. They have most definitely given more they anyone could imagine. We do also now have a dog and I love her to death but she is a huge expense. We cant just pick up and go for a weekend like we can with the cats. She also needs walking no matter what the weather and the kids help with her care but it falls mostly on me where with the cats they do it all including the litter boxes.What ever you decide make sure its right for you AND your daughter! Good luck

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

First - Glad you are getting her counseling.

Second - Perhaps not a puppy. They are SO much work. Perhaps get a dog that is past the puppy phase, especially since it will be home alone during the day. Look at a shelter. Or a cat might be even better as they can use a litter box. Again, go for one that is already grown enough to be litter trained.

Third - Include your daughter in your decision.

Just thought about your mention of a tight income. Make sure you really can afford this. cats and dogs are expensive. Maybe a Guinea Pig. I had one as a kid and LOVED her. She really did have a personality (more than a hamster) and was big enough to cuddle. Or if you go the cat/dog route, look into per insurance. I read an article a few years ago that said they really do offer some good deals.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

Maybe a cat? No need to worry about leaving it home alone.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

pets are great. My dogs are awesome. But easy/cheap/convenient they aint. They require time, money and attention. Leaving a puppy alone all day is terrible for the dog and also can be destructive in your house. Training takes time and work!

You can get a shelter dog but you will need to take care of it. 9 - 10 hours a day alone is not too cool. Unless you have some other options for the pet during the day?

Maybe a cat would be better. Even though I am more of a dog person....

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Do not get a puppy unless YOU want to take care of a puppy. A depressed child is not going to be motivated to feed, obeduience train, and potty train a puppy.
Also, puppies are expensive little critters - vaccinations, flea preventative, heartworm preventative, spaying/neutering, food, shampoo, a crate, chew toys. And that's not even taking into account if it gets sick or hurt. Don't get an animal if you can't afford to properly care for it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Don't get her a puppy. It wouldn't be fair to the puppy. Your daughter will still have the core problems that are upsetting her and your efforts to mask her pain with what amounts to a bribe won't address the real problems. A puppy won't fill any voids. You already stated your finances aren't very good, and adding a puppy will trash them completely. I'm sorry, but your girlfriend gave you junk advice. Trying to bribe a child out of feeling perfectly valid emotions that they need to work through isn't fair to the child. It's stifling. It's a dirty bandage. Emotions are messy... it doesn't mean we and our children shouldn't feel them and experience them. If your daughter can't cope with them now then she's going to have incredible difficulties as a teen and an adult.

Counseling, which I see you're taking her to, is best. I would also make it a point to have family counseling between the two of you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I don't suggest a dog or a cat. Dogs and cats are adult responsibilities that parents end up dealing with.

I adopted a smart, young adult dog for my son's 10th birthday, to help him adjust to the move to our new house. He was sad that he had to leave his old school. He does love Sneakers, but he can't handle her. Because dogs usually don't take their cues from children. Children are NEVER the alpha in the home, they're peers and playmates, so training the dog to listen to the child is often a big challenge. I took Sneakers to training classes, which very much helped with her manners, but it still took many, many months after that before she'd even give Taylor her attention when he tried to direct her.

Look into a smaller, cheaper, cuddly fur friend. One that doesn't require extensive training and won't care if it's hanging out in a cage for the day.

If you DO decide to adopt a dog, don't get a puppy. Get a fully housetrained dog that is proven to be great with kids. Choose a smart breed that isn't stubborn. Get them into training classes together and ensure that the dog is properly fed and vetted.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

It will be a big cost.
An ongoing cost.
Just in food alone.
And the "puppy" will be home alone.
WILL your daughter want it, AND train it, AND be responsible about it?

I would not get her a puppy.
Sure they can be therapeutic.
But, its not a toy.
It is like having another, kid.
And you said your finances is tight already.
Why add stress to yourself and her?

Choose another pet. If you want her to have a pet.
IF she wants, a pet. That is.
A cat... would be easier.
I've had cats.
They are great companions, too.

She is in counseling.
So, she needs to keep that up.
Being she has so much stress and upheaval in her life, now.

A puppy/dog, is a big cost. Ongoing.
Don't do what you cannot, afford.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Honestly, I would chose something else.

I love puppies, and dogs, and think all kids can benefit from having one in their home when growing up, as a "general" rule of thumb. However, it needs to be done with some basic guidelines.
1) They aren't cheap. Annual vet visits are a must for a healthy dog, along with flea/tick preventatives, annual vaccinations, and heartworm preventative. This is ongoing, not a one-time expense. Just like food. If you cannot afford this, don't get a dog/puppy.
2) Spay/neuter. If you get a puppy, this is a must do, and if you cannot afford it, do not get a puppy.
3) Decent quality food. The cheap stuff from Walmart is cheap, yes, but your dog will pay for it in it's health. And so will you in the long run, either with health issues you have to pay for, and/or the shortened life span and emotional cost that brings with it.
4) Time. They are family members. You can't just throw them in a fenced in yard and spend time with them as it suits you. They need attention daily, and not just 10 minutes in the back yard. They are social beings. Leaving them alone all day can work, but it takes a LOT of effort in those other 16 hours of the day/night to keep your pet happy and emotionally balanced. Otherwise, you end up with a dog with some sort of neurosis that will make you hate it (destructive habits, usually).
5) Adult responsibility. No matter who the intended "main" caretaker of a dog is supposed to be, it always ends up on the adult. Because, well, you're the adult. If you are married, that usually means the woman of the house, because that's how it shakes out... the woman tends to take care of the house and the dog is IN the house... Do not deceive yourself into thinking that your child will be able to manage a dog as her responsibility. She can help. She can do a lot. But ultimately, it is YOUR responsibility to ensure the dog is cared for properly in all aspects, including walks, the vet, medication, grooming (including the dreaded teeth brushing and nail clipping, not just brushing their fur) and socialization.

IF you can and WILL do all those things.. then go for it. But, it sounds to me as if your current situation requires you to be more focused on your daughter and her needs, and not those of a new puppy/dog. And finances are an issue. If you are on a tight budget and end up needed to move, having a pet can become very problematic. Rentals that accept pets are limited, and even then, the size/breed of pet matters as well. Many, MANY dogs are given up b/c of inability to find a rental that will accept them.
You do not want to add the trauma of having to give up a loved pet to your daughter's already long list of losses.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Are YOU ready to buy a puppy for you? not your daughter.
The person that needs to train this dog is you.
The person that needs to take the puppy to the vet is you.
The person that will end up walking the dog is you.
The person that will pick up poop is you.
The person that needs to remember flea treatments, dog brushing/bathing/nail cutting is you.
The person that is responsible for this dog will be you.
If you think that you are ready to take it on, go for it. But if you are already busy (which you are out of the house 7:30-5:30ish, so you are VERY busy) adding a dog to your family may not be a good idea.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Not sure I have the answer, but be sure SHE wants a puppy, otherwise it will be YOURS and all your responsibility, puppies need lots of activity and attention and training! Puppies grow up to be dogs, with large food bills and vet bills. If money is tight, you are taking on an expense. Other things to consider, do you have a yard for the dog? Do you own your residence or rent? Are pets allowed? Who will pick up after the dog and will it be in the house? Potential to be destructive if not properly trained.

Sorry your little girl is going through this depression and losses.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

I'm not sure about a puppy, but a shelter dog might be a good idea. Call and see if your local shelter does temperament screening and take your daughter to 'interview' a few that would suit your household (size, activity level, coat, temperament, etc) Many of these dogs are already house trained.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

We have dogs and we love love love our dogs. But I strongly urge you not to get a puppy unless you are willing to be a very active dog owner. They need exercise every day. The first couple years they need a lot of training and time put into them. I recommend puppy classes and then obedience classes. I think given your situation you should look into getting a cat or a less time intensive pet. Cats are great too...get one with a good, friendly, laid back personality.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Not to come off "Holier than though" I wouldn't "Buy" a puppy but adopt one. With so much overbreeding, puppy mills, etc. start with a rescue dog. Also, the mention of a cat is good too. They are very self sufficient and can be left alone without destroying your home (though, that is not always the case).

Another thing, will she want the responsibility of a pet or are you planning on doing the walking/potty breaks, etc? My husband and I were turned down for a dog adoption because we both worked like you, 8-5 type hours and that is simply not fair to the dog, unless you are considering a dog walking service but I also see you mentioned finances are tight.

All that being said, I would let the counseling take hold first, talk to her therapist and see what they think and go from there. Good luck and hug that little lady of yours extra tight each and every night. I have been where she is and it is a rotten place to be.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Are you looking to the puppy to be an outlet or therapeutic for your daughter? They can help in that regards. I think though, that in your circumstances, a slighlty older young dog, from shelter would be a better start.

If whomever you have charged with your before/ after care for your daughter while you are at school can give the dog a chance to get outdoors, then it's day won't be too long.

In terms of finances-
our dog, a 90lb rescue lab mix from the pound, ran us about $150 in adoption fees, and $400 in first year vet fees, and about $300 a year thereafter. Her food runs about $45 a month, and as she gets older a bit more, with the supplements. there is also the licence fee of $8-12 a year (i forget which). a bed, bowls, and a coat, a toothbrush, and toothpaste ran us another $100, but need not have cost so much.

The dog, will be yours for life, and it might be around for as long as 15 years, long after your daughter is off to college. That means twice daily outings, regardless of the weather.

If you are ready to do it, by all means, I think it can be a welcome addition to the family.

F. B.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Sorry but I've got to say NO to the puppy/pet idea.

I don't think a puppy is going to fix anything and it could add a whole lot of expense and trouble.
A dog that is home alone all day makes for a very neurotic pet.
Dogs are pack animals - they NEED company.
There's training, and picking up the poop and food bills, vet bills, damage bills(chewed your shoes, scratched up furniture/walls) and cost for putting it in a kennel if you travel or hiring a pet sitter for it and dealing with upset neighbors if they complain about it barking all day - it's a major responsibility.

See how the counseling goes and try to keep her busy with one activity.
As things in life change we've got to roll with the punches.
Maybe signing her up for taekwondo would be a good idea.
Forget about getting a pet.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Please do not get a puppy. It's like having another kid who will NEVER be able to leave your home. Your 9 year old may not be able to handle all of the responsibility of having a dog. If you can borrow a friend's dog or perhaps check out a local shelter. Sometimes they need people to walk the dogs and pet the kitties to keep them socialized. That may be a better fit for her.

It seems to me like she may need to be a part of something bigger than herself. Some group activity or volunteering experience. Perhaps gaining a hobby like painting, knitting, latch hook, jewelry making, crocheting, or the like would help harness her energy and give her an outlet for expressing how she is feeling while taking up her time too.

Counseling is great when you do the work. It's pointless when you don't. Hopefully your little one will do the work in her counseling sessions but I would lean away from a puppy. Perhaps adopting an older dog would be a better choice, if you really must have another mouth to feed and care for for life.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It wouldn't be fair to "buy" a puppy because they are like babies... they need lots of love and attention. They don't need to sit alone all day just to make someone happy at night. You would be creating an additional issue if you did this. And it wouldn't be fair to the dog. (And if you do decide to get a dog, please please please don't buy a puppy. There are plenty of older, well-trained dogs that need good homes. Adopt, don't buy.)

I second the suggestion about a cat, or perhaps a guinea pig. Something much easier and no training involved.

If things are tight already with your income though, you won't be able to properly feed and take care of (veterinarian visits) a cat. Which makes me think guinea pig might be a good choice. It's still going to cost you some money. But not as much.

Talk to her counselor and see what he/she thinks about this idea as well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

dogs are terrific for raising spirits, no doubt. and what's more charming than a puppy?
or more work. and responsibility.
your situation sounds like the frequent MP posters who are considering having another child because 'peony wants someone to play with.'
when you're in the right situation, ie time to train and exercise a puppy, and the resources to handle the considerable expense they bring with them, it'll be great. it's so awesome for kids to grow up with happy family dogs.
but puppies should not be alone all day, and require a huge investment of time and money. a sweet guinea piggie or rattie might be a better option.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

for me a dog is like having another child. they will eat things that might be important to your daughter and poop. is she able to be responsable for the dog herself? will you be taking over. Honestly all this treating a dog like a human is over my head. you can find cheaper shots for the dog at adoption places. also you can try to talk them down on prices of the dogs at adoption places. I personally would not get a dog to fill the void. But would not judge you if that is the right step for your daughter. I would ask her counselor what her thoughts on it were.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

A dog is expensive, first of all! You have the price of a dog, then the vet, the shots, the food, the accessories, the toys, the licensing, the leash, the crate. And it sounds like you will need doggie day care, either at a center or having someone to come into the house. If you go on vacation, you need to arrange for dog care, which is expensive.

It is cruel and unrealistic to leave a dog, any dog, for those long hours. They are social animals, pack animals, and they cannot be left alone unless and until they are extremely mature and are very used to your family. A puppy cannot manage, and an adopted older dog already has been abandoned or re-homed once. You cannot leave them alone like that.

You should get a pet because you want to give a pet a home and a life and a family, not because you want the dog to have a job (namely cheering up a child). The dog is work. They have to go out multiple times a day (especially puppies - you will be up at 3 AM as you were with an infant), in bad weather and good. You go out in the rain, the heat, the snow. You go out at 5 AM, noon, 4 PM, 8 PM, and before bed. Your daughter may well resent the dog as much as love it, because you will both be stopping what you are doing (dinner, homework, favorite TV show, whatever) to take the dog out, clean up pee and poop, and doing all the training. An untrained dog is an unhappy dog. And an unsocialized dog who is left alone all day can become destructive, chewing on your daughter's favorite shoe or eating her pony tail holders. If the dog gets out, you stop everything you are doing to rescue it.

I say all of this as a dog lover and a dog owner. They are loyal and wonderful members of the family, but you have to know what you are doing, you have to dedicate the time, and you have to put in a lot of time to train the dog so it knows what you expect of it. It's not just something sweet and adorable to cuddle.

I am so sorry your daughter is going through so many losses, and it does sound like she is depressed. But a child who wants to get in bed is not likely to want to go outside to stand around and wait for a puppy to learn where it's supposed to pee and poop! I do think you have to address her losses and her emotional state, but I really don't recommend a puppy at all.

If you absolutely insist on a pet, I would go to a good shelter and find an adult cat who is good with people and likes to be cuddled (not all cats do - some are aloof). But cats can be more solitary, they can and should be litter-box trained, and they can be left alone if you have enough equipment to keep them occupied so they are not destructive. If you go away, a neighbor can come in to feed them, provide water, and clean the litter box. But any good shelter will require you to fill out a form indicating that you know how much a pet costs and that this is a lifetime commitment. When we adopted our dog, we did an 8 page application and questionnaire!

The other thing you have to be prepared with for any pet is that, sadly, they die at some point. So be sure you are ready for a loss. You have to be realistic with anything like this!

I wish you and your daughter well!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Have you tried asking your daughter's therapist about therapy dog opportunities? There are programs that encourage kids to read by having kids read to therapy dogs, therapy dogs that work with first responders, all types. If the therapist does not know anyone, contact your local Delta Society/PetPartners. You should easily be able to arrange time for her to interact with trained therapy dogs...that belong to someone else. See how it goes. If she responds really well, then think about the best way to continue that experience. If she doesn't respond to the therapy dogs, you don't have to worry about re-homing a puppy and creating another loss.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If you want an animal I would sugest a cat. They are much lower mantaniance and can pretty much take care of themselves for long periods of time. Even a few days at a time if you go out of town as long as it has enough food.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

We adopted a 4 or 5 year old Rott. My 8 year old does well with her, works on training, and picks up poop. She is too big for her to walk, so she doesn't do that on her own, but for the most part she does well.

Animal interaction can be good, but before investing, I would try to find something to keep her busy. You have to find something that will fulfill her needs. See if there is a petting zoo around or working farm that she can visit. Our working farm shows the children how to brush and saddle the horses. They make them carry the equipment to the horses and put it away. There is no such thing as showing up for a ride at this farm.

I hope that helps.



answers from Austin on

SO many GREAT ideas. I agree with most of them. I would like to add that I DO think a cat might be a better idea since you're gone from home all day.

Another option - IF you're not sure that your daughter even wants a pet - is to consider fostering an animal (dog/cat). These arrangements are not permanent and the rescues are always begging for fosters to keep their animals in a 'home' environment. Of course, a lot of fosters end up adopting their foster.

Fostering would probably not cost you anything - except time. Most rescues supply food, spay/neuter/vet care, etc.

You could find a favorite breed and check with their rescue - a lot are mixed breeds which is even better. This would give you time to see if you guys are ready for a dog (or cat).

Good luck, keep us posted!



answers from Dallas on

Don't get a puppy if nobody is home all day. Get a grown-up dog from a shelter that is already adjusted to that amount of solitude.


answers from Milwaukee on

AZneomom has a fantastic idea, & one that I was thinking of immediately when I read your post.

I would advise against getting a dog/puppy, but not for the reasons many people listed. It sounds like your daughter needs something to help her break out of the shell that her depression is surrounding her with.

This involves getting engaged in something she is interested in, preferably outside of the home, where she can interact with people, rather than isolating herself. This activity may involve animals (such as 4-H or volunteering @ the local shelter), but doesn't necessarily need to.

Bringing a dog/puppy home won't encourage that type of engagement, & might even encourage her to isolate further...

Talk with her therapist to see what options there are in your area for animal therapy. Other opportunities include neighborhood dog-walking, or taking riding lessons @ a local barn - she might even be able to do some chores in exchange for lessons, building a sense of responsibility & ownership.

If you do decide that a dog/puppy is right for you & your daughter (it is your choice after all!), there's no reason that working during the day should be an issue, unless you get a very young puppy (under 6 months). Dogs can & do hold it during the day when people work!

Cost is an issue that can be offset by taking advantage of local health clinics for vaccinations, microchip & spay/neuter services (if needed). Purchase price can be reduced by getting an older dog from a breeder, a dog/puppy from a breed rescue, or a dog from your local humane society.

What I will suggest is that if you do bring home a dog/puppy, make it a joint selection with your daughter, & use it as an opportunity for her to get involved in activities with the dog, such as weekly obedience classes, 4-H dog project, or training for competitions, such as fly-ball teams, frisbee, obedience or agility.

I'd be happy to help you out with information on how to find health clinics, breeders/breed rescues, and activity clubs in your area, just send me a message & I can send you links.

Good luck, I hope what ever you decide is the right decision for your daughter to bring herself out of her current depression. T.



answers from Dallas on

Cat would be better when left alone for large time periods.

Also, try to never get puppies, or kittens for that matter. Plenty of established juvenile or adult cats and dogs at any local Petsmart or shelter up for adoption (it can be particularly cathartic to 'rescue' an animal when you yourself are feeling abandoned, and it is the right thing to do. PLUS puppies destroy everything!).

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