“The best way to get a puppy is to beg for a baby brother — and they’ll settle for a puppy every time.”
That one-liner by Winston Pendelton is one way to convince mom and dad to get a dog. However, if you really want to add a canine companion to your family, there are several (better) strategies you can use when presenting your case to reluctant parents.
First, put yourself in their shoes. You say “dog” and they most likely hear “time, expense, disruption of schedules, a lot of extra work, and possible destruction of furniture and household goods.” You’ll want to address their concerns, while also highlighting the best parts of dog ownership. But, you can’t just talk the talk … you have to walk the walk. Here are some ways to show your folks that you’re ready for a dog.
1. Plan out a daily routine. Whether you get a new puppy or an adult dog, he will need food, walks, exercise, grooming, and training. By creating a list of daily tasks, you’re showing your parents that you understand how much time and effort goes into raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted pet.
2. Show them how you plan to implement that routine. Will you get up earlier to feed and walk the dog? Are you willing to give up some after-school activities in order to come home and take care of him? Will you clean up after him? Are you willing to contribute to the expense? Far too often, families get a dog “for the kids,” but mom and dad end up doing all the work. Show them that you’re eager to take on a lot of the responsibility.
3. Prove to your parents that you’re responsible. Start by completing all of your household tasks, without being nagged to do so. Make your bed, pick up your room, take out the trash, and do the dishes. You might even get extra credit for taking on additional chores.
4. Do your research. Every breed is different, from size and appearance to temperament and exercise needs. A cute dog you saw in the park may not be the right breed for your family. For example, if your family is athletic and wants a dog to take on summer hikes, a breed in the Toy Group might not suit your needs. If you live in an apartment, a large breed could take up too much space. Explain your reasons for wanting a particular breed. If you need help deciding what kind of dog to get, check out AKC’s Breed Selector.
5. Figure out a way to help with the expenses that come with dog ownership. If you’re old enough, consider getting a part-time job or offer to do odd jobs around your neighborhood. You can even save up your birthday money. If you really want to show your parents that you’re ready to take care of a dog, offer to walk or petsit your neighbors’ canine companions.
6. Talk up the pros of owning a dog. Here are a few you can put on your list:
• Owning a dog often equals more time spent as a family. Walks, games in the backyard, and training sessions are activities the whole clan can enjoy.
• You’ll spend more time outdoors. Fresh air and physical activity are good for both you and your dog.
• You might feel safer with a dog at home. You don’t have to get a guard dog, but with training, most breeds can learn who is welcome in your home and who is not. Plus, households with dogs are less likely to get burglarized.
• Dog ownership teaches responsibility. You’ll learn to stick to a routine and follow through on promises. Plus, you’ll experience the joy of caring for another living being.
7. Make a contract. Specify which tasks you will personally take on. That could mean walking the dog twice a day or cleaning up any accidents he has in the house. This is the moment to have an open and honest conversation with your parents.
8. Address your parents’ concerns. Perhaps your mom or dad is allergic to dogs. You could always present them with a list of hypoallergenic breeds. If they’re worried about your grades or extracurricular activities, don’t get defensive. Hear them out and respond honestly. Then, give them time to think about your proposal.
Owning a dog can be one of the greatest joys in life, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. If you can show your parents that you’re willing and able to take on that responsibility, you might just secure yourself a canine BFF.