A dog, a cat, a hamster, a pony... How many children and teenagers have asked their parents to get a pet? And how many parents replied: "After 3 days you won't take care of it anymore, it will be on us". Yeah, many… But this is not always true! Youth does not (always) rhyme with irresponsibility.
So if you're really ready to take care of an animal, to accept all the responsibilities that having an animal implies, here are a few tips to help you make this dream come true, by convincing your parents of your ability to take care of a dog.
How to convince your parents to get a dog in 5 steps
British author Winston Pendleton once said: “The best way to get a puppy is to beg for a baby brother and they'll settle for a puppy every time.” This amusing quote could maybe help to convince your parents of getting a dog or a puppy, but we have prepared some more efficient arguments you can use.
Follow these steps and who knows, you might be getting a new best friend sooner than you think.
Step 1: Try to understand why your parents don’t want a dog
You shouldn't be afraid to have a clear and honest discussion with your parents about why they are reluctant to the idea of getting a pet. Ask your parents what their concerns are, so that you can better address them. Even if only one of your parents is opposed to getting a pet, you will need to find out why.
The first step will then be to find a solution to all the different reasons your parents have for not getting a dog. These reasons could be:
- They don't have the budget
- They don't have the time to take care of the animal
- They think it's too much responsibility
- They are afraid of dogs
- They have allergies
- Or other reasons that you may not have thought of
There is probably an answer that will more or less reassure your parents in each of these situations. For example, if one of your parents (or both) suffer from allergies, you could look into getting a hypoallergenic dog breed.
Step 2: Research - Research - Research!
Once you have discovered what is preventing your parents from saying "yes", you can research and find reasonable solutions. For example, as we have seen above if allergies are the problem you could look into getting a hypoallergenic dog breed and your parents may not have even thought of that.
If you are looking for a specific dog breed, you’ll need to explain why you want this particular breed. Researching your desired dog breed thoroughly is an opportunity to prove that having a dog is not just a passing fancy for you.
Keep in mind that every breed is different, from size and appearance to temperament and needs. The dog you saw in the park may not be the right breed for your family, and you don't know it yet. For example:
- If your family is athletic and wants a dog that can follow them on a hike, you may want to skip the show dogs.
- If you live in a flat, a large breed may take up too much space and the dog will not be able to be fully happy.
- If you like the look of Border Collies playing Frisbee, but no one is willing to walk your dog, then you should look for another breed.
- If aggression is the problem, look for a gentle breed with no history of violence.
- If time is the problem, find a calm, independent breed.
Use the research to your advantage and address any concerns your parents may have.
Step 3: Prove to your parents you are ready to take care of a dog
Put yourself in their shoes. You say "dog" but they are probably thinking "time, money, extra work, veterinarian, and possible destruction of furniture". You need to address their concerns, while highlighting the positive aspects of dog ownership. But you can't just talk about it, you have to put things into action.
Here are some ways to show your parents that you are ready to welcome a dog in your home.
Plan a daily routine and show your parents you are ready to put this routine in place
Whether you want a puppy or an adult dog, your four-legged friend is going to need food, walks, exercise, grooming and training. By making a list of daily tasks, you show your parents that you understand the time and effort it takes to raise a happy, healthy, socially-adapted pet.
Are you prepared to get up earlier to feed and walk the dog, to give up certain activities to come home and look after the dog, to clean up after your pet? Often families get a dog for their children, but ultimately it is the parents who take care of it, and they may be afraid of this. Show them that you are willing to take on these responsibilities.
Prove to your parents that you are responsible
On this point, some will have to go a long way while others already have the trust of their parents. But even if you have been a real troublemaker at times, nothing is lost. Do all of your chores without being asked. If you help out around the house, do all your school homework and even have time to do a little work on the side, you're in with a good chance of proving your parents that you are responsible.
Find a way to help your parents with dog-related expenses
Every situation is different, and we know that for many people it is difficult to put money aside when you're young. If your family is already struggling financially, you may have to accept that having a dog is beyond their means. In any case, don't get an animal if you can't afford to look after them at all. When you are old enough, you may be able to afford a dog.
But, you could always help out your parents financially if you can. Indeed, if you are old enough, you can try to find a small job. You can also save the money you get at Christmas and on your birthday. Try to save enough money for some of the dog's maintenance and medical care.
Finally, you could discuss where you will get your future four-legged friend from: adopting a dog from a shelter or kennel is much less expensive than buying it from a breeder. This also proves to your parents that you really love all dogs, not just the good looking ones, because, well all dogs are good looking!
Talk about the advantages of having a dog
We’ll get back to this later with more details, but explaining to your parents how beneficial it would be to have a dog at home could be an excellent argument. Indeed:
- Having a dog is often an opportunity to spend more time together as a family. Walks, games in the garden and training sessions are activities where everyone can participate.
- You will spend more time outside. Fresh air and physical activity are good for you and your dog.
- You may feel safer with a dog at home. You don't have to have a guard dog, but with training, most breeds can learn who is welcome in their home and who isn't. Also, homes with dogs are less likely to be broken into.
- Owning a dog is really about learning to be responsible.
Last but not least, why not write a contract between you and your parents?
Writing a contract with your parents? This may sound old-fashioned, but it is often that which makes the difference! With a contract you show in a way that you are already an adult and this is another proof that you are motivated and committed.
The contract doesn't have to be fancy, just honest. Describe the tasks you will personally take on. The contract should state that you are responsible for the dog’s care, daily walks and training. Let your parents know that you will bathe, exercise, train and educate the dog so that it does not develop behavioural problems such as aggression, digging, chewing and excessive barking.
Explain what you plan to do when you leave your home to go to university or move into your first flat. If you are twelve years old, for example, you may only be at home for another 7 or 8 years. This may seem like a long time, but it is only half the life of a dog. One solution for this would be to get an adult dog.
Step 4: Explain to your parents the advantages of having a dog
If you have followed all the steps so far, all you need to do is master the following arguments and bring them out at the next family dinner to convince your parents one last time. Fingers crossed!
Advantage 1: Having a dog means spending more time with the family
What parent doesn't want to spend more time with their children? With a dog, you'll have tons of opportunities to spend time with your family. You can take the dog for a walk with the whole family, spend an afternoon together or work on training the dog. These memories last a lifetime and can bring your family closer.
Advantage 2: You’ll get to exercise more
“Emilyyyy! Put your mobile phone down! Don't you want to go outside?!!” Does this sentence remind you of something? Yes, your parents when they are telling you off for not going outside enough. Well, now you have a great excuse to go out and exercise. Your dog will need to go for a walk at least twice a day! It will be a chance for you to get some fresh air and take a walk. And that's just what your parents want!
Advantage 3: A dog guarantees a less stressful home and better mental health
Several studies have shown that canine companions are perfect stress relievers. Just being around a dog can lower your heart rate and reduce certain stress hormones. Because of dogs' ability to reduce stress, everyone in your family can benefit from better mental health. Dogs are extremely positive creatures.
Advantage 4: Dogs help for a better immune system and overall health
Did you know that children raised with dogs generally suffer less from allergies in the future? Being around animals helps to strengthen the immune system considerably. This can be a strong argument to convince your parents if you have a little brother or sister.
In addition to improving your immune system, dogs can have a significant effect on your health. Many studies have shown that dog owners often have better cholesterol levels.
The health benefits of dogs are immeasurable, and it's worth talking to your parents about them.
Advantage 5: You’ll feel safer in your home
Whether you have a guard dog breed known such as German Shepherd, Bulldog, Mastiff, Bull terrier, Belgian Shepherd, Rottweiler, etc. or not, having a dog to protect your home brings security to the home. With their exceptional hearing, dogs can detect intruders long before you do. In addition, barking dogs are one of the best ways to deter potential burglars.
Advantage 6: A great opportunity to learn how to be responsible
We can’t say it enough but you have to be responsible to have a dog. But the opposite is also true: owning a dog helps you develop a sense of responsibility. We've mentioned this before, but it's an important benefit to emphasise on: taking care of an animal is an excellent way to build your personality, and the skills you learn with your first dog will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Step 5: Propose a trial
Do you have a friend who has a dog? Why not ask his parents to let you look after their pet for a few hours every now and then? It's a great opportunity to get some first-hand experience. You'll see what it's like to constantly look after a dog, while your parents will get a better idea of what it's like to have a dog in the house.
You could also borrow a dog. Yes, you’ve read that right, you can actually borrow dogs from dog owners. Pet borrowing is a mutually beneficial pet care service agreed upon between an owner and borrower. While pet sitting is traditionally transactional, pet borrowing operates on a shared interest (the love of a dog or cat) with no money exchange.
Now you have all of the arguments you need to convince your parents that you are ready to get a dog. We think these arguments are pretty strong, so good luck! And we hope you’ll get to experience the joy of having a dog in your life.