A pet can bring a whole new dimension to your family set up. You can bond with this animal and make it part of the family. As your children grow up, they will get very close to the pet and develop a powerful bond. For this reason, you might think about adding a puppy to your family. If your children are old enough to start school, then the decision is easy. If you think you can handle the extra work, then go for it.
What about if your children are still infants?
Ah, well, this is where things get tricky. There’s a lot of debate around whether you should have a puppy if you’ve got a baby in the house. If your child is barely learning to walk, then they’re classed as an infant in my eyes. In fact, let’s just say any child under the age of 3 comes into this category.
If this applies to your family, you have to weigh up the pros and cons before coming to your decision. So, here they are:
Pro: An even tighter bond
A big advantage of having a puppy when your child is a baby is that they can grow to have a much tighter bond. Your child will probably never remember life before the dog existed. As such, they grow older and become instantly connected to the puppy. It can be a very beautiful thing that develops into one of the best friendships any child can wish to have. Plus, they kind of grow up together, which makes it all the more special. Of course, the dog will grow quicker, but still!
Con: More risk of the dog getting hurt
One of the main reasons people are cautious about introducing a puppy to an infant is that an infant has no sense of right or wrong. They just do what they feel like doing, and this often involves grabbing or pulling. Without meaning too, they can cause physical harm to your new dog. They might pull their tail, or they could accidentally hit them or knock them off the sofa/bed. This is potentially very dangerous for young puppies as their bones are still growing. So, it could lead to serious problems like IVDD in their spine. You can get an IVDD brace for dogs, but you don’t want to confine a puppy to wearing one for months on end – or maybe even forever. As such, perhaps resign yourself to the fact the dog and baby can’t be alone together until your child grows up and matures a bit.
Pro: An extra guardian for your infant
Dogs can be very protective of other small beings. To them, an infant is basically a puppy. So, they almost see your infant as part of their pack. While they may be small themselves, they can quickly grow and develop into guardians. With a dog in your house, you can rest assured that they will protect your infant at all costs. This loyalty will increase as your child gets older and learns how to play with the dog safely. As a result, you have an extra guardian to watch over your child when you’re indisposed.
Con: The infant can get hurt
This follows on from the previous con about the puppy getting hurt. There’s also a high chance your infant can get hurt. Typically, this only happens when the infant hurts or scares the dog. As a result, your puppy will react to this and defend themselves. It could mean they scratch or bite your child, leading to lots of tears. Obviously, this isn’t the fault of your dog. After all, they are animals acting on reflex. It’s what they’d do if they were threatened in the wild. This is another reason why you should always be present when your puppy and infant are near one another. Encourage contact between them, but always be on hand to grab either one if things get nasty. Ultimately, the best way to avoid this is to encourage your child to learn how to behave around puppies and dogs. The older they get, the more they’ll respond to your teachings. By the time they’re old enough to walk and talk and go to pre-school, they should know how to behave around the dog!
Pro: Make your child feel happier
There is lots of evidence that suggests pets can have a beneficial effect on your mental health and happiness. Therefore, bringing a puppy into your home can help your infant feel happier. As they get used to the new creature, they start to relax and feel more at ease. The same holds true for yourself. As parents, looking after a child is a lot of hard work. It can tax your mental wellbeing, leaving you feeling stressed and depressed. Bringing a puppy into the mix is a great cure for this. They offer relief when you’re feeling down, and the daily walks are a great excuse to go out and clear your head.
Finally, the last drawback is that puppies can be an extra expense. Looking after an infant is costly enough, so another financial responsibility may be too much. Think about the food you have to buy for them, toys, things around the house, leashes, and so on. It’s an ongoing cost, and it could be too much for you to handle. Obviously, this depends on you and your family. If you can financially handle a puppy, then it’s not a problem at all!
It’s clear there are plenty of pros and cons at play here. Do I think a puppy is right for every household? No, of course not. It’s all a matter of if the pros outweigh the cons for you. Everyone with a puppy will experience the pros, but you might not see all the cons. If you have enough money, then the costs aren’t an issue. If you can keep your infant under control and stop them from harming the dog, then that’s not a problem. Think about whether or not you can keep a handle on the cons to ensure the pros come out on top. Only then should you get a dog.