Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 22nd 2013 Contents B7
December 22, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The famous slogan of today s title
was created in 1978 by Clarissa Bald-
win, then-Chief Executive of Dogs
Trust, the largest dog welfare charity
in the United Kingdom, but these
words remain just as relevant today.
Every year hundreds of thousands
of children plead for the latest fad or
top toy on the market, only to discard
them a few weeks after Christmas when
the novelty wears off.
Unfortunately, the same tends to
happen with dogs, but the conse-
quences of treating dogs as gifts or toys
can be horrific and include neglect,
abuse, abandonment, relinquishment
to shelters, and euthanasia (putting to
This article is not intended to dis-
courage, rather to increase awareness
that the decision to add a dog to the
family is a big one.
The right dog at the right time can
add a great deal to a child s life. Mem-
ories from many happy years with the
dog carry the meaning of a child s rela-
tionship with a dog far beyond that
snapshot on a holiday morning.
First, never assume that as a parent
you are getting a dog "for the kids":
you are really getting a dog for yourself!
Regardless of the age of children,
parents are the ones who end up caring
for, and providing the dog s needs.
The best way to teach your children
how to be responsible pet caregivers is
to be one yourself. Bear in mind that
dogs will live for 12 -- 15 years and as
children grow up and leave home the
dog will likely be left behind with you.
However, taking care of the dog
should be shared by all family mem-
bers---children can, and should, be
assigned tasks appropriate to their ages
and abilities, such as supervised feeding,
washing bowls and cleaning up after
the dog, exercise (walking the dog),
obedience training, and supervised play.
Consider the ages and activity levels
of the children at home: puppies are
a lot of work and acquiring a puppy at
the same time as a baby may seem like
you ve given birth to twins!
Babies and young children must
never left be unsupervised with any
dog, and even older children may from
time to time do silly things that hurt
or frighten the dog, resulting in a bite.
It is recommended that children
younger than 14 years old be supervised
when interacting with a dog.
Ironically, small dogs such as toy-
dogs and mini-breeds are not consid-
ered suitable for toddlers and young
children since these tiny dogs are too
fragile to handle the rough handling of
children not yet knowing how to be
After the mental development of
empathy at age 5 to 7 years, children
have increased ability to treat dogs
properly. Families with very young chil-
dren should look for a dog no smaller
than 25-30 lbs, a sturdier companion
who will not feel vulnerable enough to
Larger breed dogs are less likely to
be accidentally stepped on or tripped
over and those such as Retrievers and
Mastiffs are generally more easy-going
when inadvertently hurt.
These breeds may be appropriate if
the home has active older children who
will provide sufficient exercise for these
Dogs don t come cheap! You may
start by paying thousands of dollars
just to get the dog, and you also need
to factor in the cost of food, bowls,
toys, bedding, veterinary bills, parasite
treatments, obedience training, and all
the other little expenses which will add
up over the years.
Dogs can be destructive if not ade-
quately exercised, properly trained, and
sufficiently enriched; so you may have
to deal with problems like dug-up gar-
dens, chewed-up slippers, ripped mud-
guards from your car, excessive barking,
and general wreckage of your house!
Finally, dogs need your time.
A dog who is shut in a kennel, tied
up all the time, or left alone for long
periods in the yard is a dog who will
become depressed, noisy, and may
develop aggressive tendencies.
These are a few factors to consider
before you commit to getting a dog.
You will want to gain all the benefits
of sharing your love and home with
this animal, but in return you must
ensure his life is a happy one.
Copyright © Kristel-Marie Ramnath
2013. For further information, contact
689-8113 or bestpetsbehave@ hot-
life, not just
Dogs can be destructive if not adequately exercised,
properly trained, and sufficiently enriched; so you may
have to deal with problems like dug-up gardens, chewed-
up slippers, ripped mudguards from your car, excessive
barking, and general wreckage of your house!
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