Should I (We) Get a Dog?

Updated on October 29, 2008
A.D. asks from Baldwin, NY
7 answers

I grew up with multiple pets in our family. I absolutely LOVE cats but my boys have asthma. We gave up our cat, well grandma took him in, when we learned our oldest had asthma. Not having a pet has been hard for me . . . so about two years ago we got fish (ugh) - not quite the same. We've researched and have landed on a hypoallergenic dog (Cairn Terriers) and found a local breeder with a litter coming next month. We're on the wait list. My question, should I get a dog or are my boys to young - 3 and 5 years old. Just testing for input from others.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great advise. We're getting a puppy from a litter that was born on Nov. 18th. Our new addition should be available in the Feb/March 2009 timeframe. We're excited and really looking forward to pet ownership.

All the input, including some "watch outs" because it's a lot of work and will likely fall on me, is appreciated.

More Answers



answers from Glens Falls on

I don't know if you should or shouldn't get a dog, but if you do, since you have kids -

Teach your dog very early on not to bite you if you take their food dish away. While they are eating just go up and take their food away over and over again and make sure they know it is not OK to bite you. This is something that adults rarely think to teach dogs, but is something kids think it is funny to do. When I was 3 I took the dish away from our boxer - the friendliest dog ever - and she bit my face. My dad really almost killed her throwing her around our garage, he was in a rage. Ever since then my parent taught all dogs we had from the time they were puppies that anyone in our family can take the dish away.



answers from New York on

Definitely have your boys get some exposure to this breed before you buy one! Just in case they are allergic to the Cairns as well.

If they are ok, then go for it! I was raised with 3 dogs from birth. And now my 10 month old son is madly in love with our two Labs. As long as you are realistic with the amount of work it takes (walking every day, training, etc.), then you won't regret sharing your home and kids with a doggy. And it's just so much more fun than a fish!

Training is crucial, though. From early on. Otherwise, your dog could end up trying to be dominant around your kids. You want your pup to be cool if they touch his food or feet, and to walk on a leash easily for your 5 year old. A little training goes a long way! (Though we've learned, the hard way, that you have to keep the training up...)

And what a wonderful way to teach empathy and responsibility to your kids! :)



answers from New York on

Dear A.,

I would check past the allergies and make sure that the temperment of the bread of dog you choose is okay with the age your boys are. Remember that young children can sometimes be rough with a dog and you want a dog who is tolerant and good with children. I once had a Cairn Terrier when my kids were young it was not a good fit for our family. Terriers can tend to be a difficult breed, they can be spiteful. I couldn't house train this dog, he chewed everything in my house, my furniture, my carpets, it was a nightmare. We had to give him away which broke my kids heart, but he was destroying my home. We now have a golden retriever which are great family dogs, however with the way they shed I am sure they cannot be good for allergies. Have you checked the dog shelter or a dog rescue site. There are so many dogs that need to be adopted and sometimes mixed breads can make the best house pets. Good Luck!!



answers from New York on

My daughter has asthma and I would not ever get another dog. The doctor doe not recommend pets at all with fur. For me getting a dog was a selfish thing. I felt safe with a dog around to bark when it heard or smelt something near the house. When we actually got one, this is what happened. We brought Huff home from the adoption place, the pound. He was cute, the kids loved him. We got him his doggie bed which he never used, food, bowls, treats that he never liked(we tried every treat there was for training purposes after month 3, beef jerky) Within the next couple of days we took him to the vet and then to town hall to get registered. I think in total with shots and collars,& leash-the first week we spent $600. We even tried a doggie trainer. Aside from that, my daughter started getting bumps on her chest and noticably more wheasing at night. He would jump into our bed at night and sleep with his rear in my face. We would bring him to his bed. My husband and I would get physical, and suddenly we had company! It was a nightmare! He needed to be walked at all hours. We did not want a doggie door, plus the poor animal needed excercise. Even late at night. If we didn't ge up early enough, we had a huge mess on the floor in the morning. He would scratch the back door until he made grooves in it. And if we were gone for more than 4 hours he would tear up the garbage all over the kitchen. That's when I found out what magets looked like. Gross enough yet? Well, he was fixed, but still, he would jump up on my 8 year old neice any time she showed up and we had a hard time getting him off of her leg. I pray that she is not traumatized. What else, oh, he would run away all of the time. He some how managed to squeeze through the fence and take off when I had my children in tow, we would all have to hop in the car and ask for help from anyone who was nearby to help get him back in the car so I wouldn't have to leave my children alone. But I could not let the dog roam free either. Someone could have stolen him, run him over, thought he was going to hurt them and call the pound, etc. I know this is a lot. But anyway, he was a lot of work. Be prepared to have all kinds of accomodations ready should you decide to go on a vacation. If family does not want to house sit, don't get mad at them, doggie sitters are only $600 for the weekend. And that includes time for the dog to run and play in a big caged yard with other dogs who may or may not be violent. I am not sure what else there is to tell you, there are other things you may or may not enjoy, like the cleanliness of a dogs mouth after they clean their bottoms and then playfully lick your childs face or mouth. Our dog, Huff, became violent after a weekend with a house sitter and bit me, and also my children, so we found an owner to take him, but that was only after a week in solitude back at the pound because I wanted him out of the house. That cost us $20 a day to keep him there and many nights of calling rescue missions and countless people to find a new owner. No body wanted a biter and finally a nice woman knew she was the last resort before he was put down by the pound and decided to take responsibility for him. It was an experiene that I am sad to have had, but I am glad to have been there and done with it. Now I can help you with your decisions. My daughter has since been to a wonderful pulminologist (sorry about the spelling) asthma doctor- and has been taking inhalers and clarinex, and skin medications for any time she is exposed to these types of situations. The doctor does not agree with the hypo-allergenic dog for people with asthma. Talk to your pediatrician. I hope this helped a little. Good Luck =)



answers from New York on

I agree with the poster who says the dog gets the short end of the stick. Your kids are old enough to play with your dog and enjoy it, but I have some concerns about the breed you've chosen.

Terriers by nature aren't great for little kids. They're territorial and impulsive and intense little dogs. They also need a moderate amount of exercise and stimulation and lots of training.

There are other "hypoallergenic" dogs out there that might be better fits - Shih-tzus come to mind immediately. Also need training, but are a more low-key dog, better for kids and families.

But in general, I think the ages that your kids are at is good for a dog.



answers from New York on

We have a dog (lab mix) that we got almost a year before my daughter was born. We thought seriously about waiting until after babies, but decided to go for it. Turns out it was the right decision for us in many ways. Our child loves the dog and he is very good with her, however, we follow a very simple principle that I learned at a pre-baby class called "Pets and Babies" at St. Barnabas. It's this: "Your dog is like the pool." You'd never leave your child unsupervised near the pool, never leave your child unsupervised with your dog. If you feel you can be diligent in this then you should reap all the benefits a loving pet can bring to your family.



answers from New York on

You have some great advice here about getting to know the breed, making sure your kids can be around one without having symptoms, being able to get along with the breed and esp taking the food away. We did that with our dog (a setter), it's an effective way to let the dog know who is the "alpha" dog - you.

Are your boys allergic or just have asthma? I ask, because my son and I have asthma and we have a house full of pets, they are not his triggers. His triggers are the same as mine (I'm so sorry to have passed them onto him) being sick, seasonal allergies and temperature changes. We even had him tested, he is not allergic. The animals do not hang out in his room (well, the frogs and lizards do) so he does not have the fur/dust accumalation where he spends 11 hours a night sleeping. He also does not have a rug in his room which greatly reduced his asthma attacks.

My kids were 18 mo, 7 and 8 when we got our dog. We brought our older kids with us to "puppy school" which helped them learn to interact properly with the dog. It also taught them what not to do, like feed her their snacks, pull on tail, etc. They are good about paying attention to her, letting her in and out if needed. My kids are able to feed her if we remind them and they pick up dog poop in the yard. They aren't able to walk her because as a setter she is too strong for them, even though she is well behaved she just has alot of energy.

We have an electric fence which is wonderful, the premise is not really the shock, but the beeping of the collar before they get to the shock. The only time we have a problem is when the battery in the collar dies. It gives her much freedom in the yard, but safety as well.

Overall dogs are almost as much a commitment as a child, but I think all our animals enrich our lives (we have cat, dog, bird, frog, lizard) and teach kids important lessons about caring for all God's creatures.

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