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Dog EyesEspecially in households with children it is important to recognize, and to make sure you know who is responsible for the dog.  For all the happiness and joy they bring us, pets are a lot of work.  Lets face it.  You have to give your pet proper veterinary care, grooming, exercise, food, water, attention, affection, training, and supervision.

I’ve met many families, while training both them and their pets, that don’t have a real answer to this question.  While the dog in these families had their basic needs met, they didn’t have as good a quality of life as they could have.

Especially when choosing a new dog or puppy it’s important to think about who will be responsible for the needs your dog must have met.  Who is going to walk the dog every day?  Who is going to give food at mealtimes?  Who is going to be playing fetch or frisbee or just playing with the dog the majority of the time.

Too often for my tastes, I’ve heard “it’s the kid’s dog they’ll take care of it.”  While there isn’t anything wrong with that statement, when it comes to real life it doesn’t really happen.  If you are in a couple situation, this can be remedied by an easy talk about who will do what.  If you are living with children and you expect them to take part in not only the enjoyable activities that having a dog provides us, but also the work involved for caring for that dog, I would add it to the chore list that your children hopefully already have.

For instance on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Suzie will be responsible for grooming the dog.  Joe likes to jog so he will be responsible for walking or jogging with the dog, continuing along this line until all the things your dog or puppy will need.  I’ve found that families who delegate the chores this way end up happier with their new member of the family instead of it being mom or dad who end up doing everything and then resenting the dog for the extra work.  Yes, I’ve seen it happen many times.  I don’t want to see it happen in your family.

If you are just considering getting a dog, have a family discussion on who will do what and get those commitments, making sure the children understand that they are permanent commitments, not temporary ones.  If you already have a dog, the family discussion is still necessary, but has probably been caused by one person having to take up the responsibility that you didn’t think would be entirely on your shoulders.  Be honest with the reasons why and get those commitments.  Then stick to them.

I am not a specialist on children or anything like it, but from watching my clients all the members of the family end up happier if everyone knows their responsibilities and know that they need to carry them out consistently.