Pets and Toddlers

Dear Mr. Dad: I really want a dog but my wife doesn’t think it’s safe with our 2-year old daughter. Is she right? Aren’t there some benefits as well?

A: A dog could make a great addition to your family, but you and your wife are both right: there are some risks and rewards.
Some of the risks include:

  • Aggressive behavior. Dogs, even the nicest ones, can be unpredictable, and there’s always a risk that it could attack, bite or otherwise harm your daughter.
  • Defensive response. When dogs act aggressively, it’s often because they feel threatened. Some dogs are fine with being chased, having their tail pulled, having their food eaten, or even having a finger stuck up a nostril (my daughter did this to a friend’s dog). Others will react in much the same way you might if someone did that to you.
  • Rough play. Dogs can get excited and might accidentally knock your daughter over.
  • Allergies and fleas. Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Messes. Toddlers, preschoolers, and dogs have accidents. It comes with the territory. Plus, some dogs may tear up your house if they get left alone for too long.
  • Time and money. Dogs aren’t like goldfish—you’ll need to spend a lot of time walking, grooming, and playing with it. Will that cut into time you’d otherwise spend with your wife or daughter? In addition, estimates that keeping a dog costs $800-$2,500 per year.

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