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Can we have a dog, please?

dog; treatment; vet; training; puppy; behaviour; rules; responsibility;


Why have a dog?

Having a dog as part of the family can be really great. There are so many good things about having a dog.

  • Dogs can be wonderful friends and companions.
  • You will always have a friend to be with, who loves you and who you can learn to care for and be responsible for.
  • Dogs get you out of the house because they need exercise.
  • Dogs can sit quietly for ages when you are busy but are always ready to go with you whenever you want.
  • You are never lonely if you have a dog.
  • You soon make friends with other dog owners.

Getting the right dog for you

Having a dog means that you are completely responsible for another being. So, before you start asking your parents or caregiver for a dog you need to do some thinking and some research. (If you show that you have really found out everything you need to know you may stand more chance of getting the dog!)

  • Research the type of dog who would fit in well with your family lifestyle. Look at this site: to find out about different breeds and sizes of dogs, how much food, exercise, training etc they will need.
    who will be responsible for the dog?
  • Who is going to be responsible for the dog, not just for the first week?
  • How much time will the dog have to be by itself?
  • What are the costs of having a dog? This includes buying the dog, food, collar and lead, registration with the local Council, visits to the vet for injections, grooming and regular use of worming tablets.
    think about the cost of having a dog
  • What about training the dog? Is there somewhere nearby where you can join a dog training class?
  • Is there a dog park or beach nearby where the dog can run free, after he has learned to come back when you call?
  • Will you have a 'pet door' so that your dog can go in and out when she needs to?
  • Who will care for your dog when you go away for a holiday?
  • Are your home and yard escape proof? Dog, especially puppies, can be very adventurous and determined to explore the world outside your home.

Training your dog

If you do everything right and you get a dog that fits in with your family then you need to train him, even if he is not a puppy when you get him.

You and mum or dad need to:

  • training your dogtake him to puppy or dog training classes so that he learns to sit, walk and stay on command
  • teach him how to act around other people and dogs
  • teach him to go to his bed when you eat and not to beg for food when you are eating
  • teach him that jumping up on people is not acceptable
  • teach him not to bark all the time
  • teach him to behave well with visitors
  • teach him to be gentle with you and other young children
  • teach him not to chew or destroy things by letting him have his own toys that he can't chew to bits
  • toilet train your dog
  • if you don't want her to jump onto furniture, make sure you don't invite her to.

 You need to teach him to do the right thing by rewarding him.

He will soon realize that bad behaviour gets no reward and very quickly learns that, "No" is not what he wants to hear from you.

Training yourself

You will have to be very strict with yourself too.

  • Do the tasks for looking after the dog every day.
  • Do not get mad with the dog if it doesn't do what you ask.
  • learn how to train your dogDon't encourage bad behaviour, like begging or jumping, because it looks cute!
  • You need to learn how to train your dog by using the same commands every time.
  • Be patient. It takes time to train a dog.
  • Always be calm and respectful to your dog and don't allow others to tease him, especially with food.
  • Never feed a dog from the dinner table or share your food while you are eating it.
  • Never pat a strange dog without asking the owner first.
  • Don't allow strangers, especially children to pat your dog unless you are very sure how he will react.
  • Always walk your dog on a lead.
  • Remember that sweet treats are 'sometimes' food for you and 'never' food for dogs. And remember that chocolate can make dogs very sick.

What your dog needs from you

Your dog needs to be, and feel, cared for.

what your dog needs

He needs:

  • to be fed, given fresh water, groomed and exercised every day
  • to be treated for worms and fleas regularly
  • to be protected from other animals or children who could hurt him
  • to be able to eat his meal in peace by himself
  • to be taken to the vet for regular vaccinations and check-ups
  • to be registered and microchipped
  • to have a proper diet
  • to be treated in the same way, eg. don't smile when he does something naughty then get angry when he does it again
  • your love
  • a kennel, or shelter outside, if he is going to be an 'outside' dog
  • his own toys - or he will chew on yours.

What kids say about dogs

  • "My dog can run around for an hour and not get puffed. We take her to the dog park for her to meet new dogs."
  • "Everyone should get a pet. When mum asks which pet you would like to choose you should pick one that fits perfectly with you."
    choose a pet that's right for you
  • "Nessia is my dog. She is a west highland terrier and her breed comes from Scotland. She is small and has stumpy legs but I love her and she loves me."
  • "We have two dogs because we are out a lot and they can keep each other company."
  • "Our dog is very old and she doesn't want to go for long walks any more. We are going to get a young dog from the animal shelter. It will keep her company and our family can still walk the dog."
  • "We can't have a dog because we live in an apartment. I take my nana's dog for a walk when I stay with her. Ralph loves it when I am there. I don't think he gets out much when I'm not."
    exercising the dog

Aaron and Gabriel have some advice for you

  • "We live in the country. Our dogs are working dogs. They are friendly when they are with our family but not with other people, especially when they are working."
  • "You shouldn't go onto someone's property if there is a sign on the gate saying dogs are guarding, unless you are with the owner. Bad people don't wear labels and if they did dogs can't read so they treat everyone coming onto the property as a 'bad person' unless their owners are with him or her."
My two dogs can be very naughty.
They can chew and they can bite.
They can do what they like.
When they are tired they snore loud as can be.
And they bug us when it's time for tea.
But, I love them
And they love me.

Dr Kim says

Dr KimIf you or someone else in your family have asthma, then it is wise to check with your doctor first before getting a dog.

You might get ringworm or have an allergic reaction to a pet's dander (the dead skin and hair that flakes off a dog's body) but humans can't catch other illnesses from dogs. Have a look at the topic on Fungal infections for more about ringworm.

Having a dog in the family is a lot of work but is also very rewarding if you and the dog are trained well.

If you want to find out more about owning a dog, have a look at   

Unfortunately some people do not look after their dogs well so there are laws to protect dogs, and there are some new laws that come into force in South Australia from July 2018. All dogs and cats must be microchipped and desexed. If they get lost they can be returned to their owners. Only cat and dog breeders, and people who have working dogs will be able to have dogs and cats which are not desexed. There will be fewer unwanted kittens and puppies and fewer lost pets turning up in animal shelters.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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