Choosing the Best Family Dog

The dog from my garden
Getting a new pet dog is a big undertaking, for everyone in the family. As well as who will take charge of the feeding, walks and training involved, it’s a good idea to consider what kinds of dog will suit your household and lifestyle. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to think about before heading for the pet store…

Who will be responsible?

It’s important that children understand from the start that a new pet is not just a playmate for them, and comes with a great deal of responsibility. Talk your child through a dog’s basic needs, such as regular exercise, interactive play and toilet training. Extend this all the way to whose job it will be to feed your family pooch the Baker’s dog food or train them to fetch. This way – hopefully – you shouldn’t end up doing all the work a few months down the line.

Once you have your new dog, get your child to be involved with every aspect, including trips to the vet. Encourage them to read more about dogs as animals online or in books so that they learn about a dog’s needs in more depth.

Which breeds are best?

When it comes to choosing a particular dog, it’s best to start with doing some research on the different breeds and their particular dispositions. There are no guarantees, but certainly if young children are a part of the equation, a pet with a balanced temperament such as a Labrador or Cocker Spaniel will be more suitable than traditional guard dogs, such as Rottweilers. It’s easy enough to do an online search or nip into a pet shop and speak to someone in the know.

A fun way to include the children in all of this (as well as enjoy your local park!) is to just ask people who are out walking their dogs. Kids love to pet dogs and owners generally get a kick out of being asked about their pets. These personal conversations often give you the extra insight you might not find online.

Making a chart with pros and cons for each is a good starting point, with parents reserving the right to have final say. Even though a new pet is a massive decision, once your dog is welcomed into the family, his or her disposition will begin to meld and form to the home life you create for it. Dogs offer enormous benefits of companionship, loyalty and joy, so don’t let the preparation work put you off!

Image by amiinsidemyself, used under Creative Comms license


  1. What a cute picture! And it’s good to remember that a new pet is a member of the family, so everyone needs to share in responsibility for it.

  2. Jennifer Y. says:

    We adopted a puppy from a shelter this summer and he has been a wonderful addition to the family! We are a pet family (dogs, cats, fish, turtles…), but we are always learning how to better incorporate our pets in our lives. This is the first time we have had a dog living primarily IN our home and crate trained him. This has made a HUGE difference in having him as a part of our family and not just a pet. He is more obedient and much less destructive. I have loved all of my dogs and if I could go back, I would crate train them. I cannot imagine my household without a pet, especially a dog. (And a cat…) 🙂

  3. We never owned our own dog, but my parents have. When my son was barely a year old he was attacked by the dog just walking by it. It was only seconds before I could grab him, but he sustained bites to his head, eye, ear, and chest which required multiple stitches. It was horrible! Not just the attack on my son, but also having to have the dog put down. The dog had suffered from recurrent gallstones and the vet believed that he was most likely in pain and acting out in fear. I grew up with pets, but honestly can’t bring myself to put my children in potential danger. Please always watch your child very closely when their are pets, you really can’t always tell they are in danger before something bad occurs.

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