Here some advice from leading veterinarians.

By Jennifer Nelson
June 08, 2021
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While dogs are known as "man's best friend," they're also a good option for child's best friend, too. If you're a youngster trying to convince your parents you need a dog, you may have more of a case than you think. After the 2020 global pandemic, one-fourth of kids failed their distance learning program, and more children than ever are experiencing anxiety and depression. Dogs can alleviate loneliness, improve a child's social skills, and boost their self-esteem. Plus, children can talk to dogs, read to dogs, get more exercise with a dog, and find comfort from a canine companion. But don't take our word for it. Here's what leading vets say will help convince your parents to bring a dog home.

Ask politely

"Ask your parents politely the reasons why they are not allowing you to get a dog in the first place," says Dr.Georgina Ushi, a veterinary writer at WeLoveDoodles. Getting a dog is like having another family member. The responsibility of the caretaker in the house, typically your mom, increases. "If you are serious and are ready to take responsibility, go for it," says Dr. Ushi. You'll need to really let your parents know that you'll be up for dog walking, feeding, and possibly some other daily dog responsibilities.

Will you help clean up dog poop outside? Clean the floor when there's an accident? Handle feeding time? Take the dog for a walk every day? Be realistic in what you're able, willing, and have time to do. Rather than telling your parents you'll do everything (which they won't believe anyway), make up a realistic list of dog tasks you can tackle.

Do your research

Figure out what dog breeds or mixes might be a good bet. If your house is small, you probably won't want a Great Dane for instance, and if your family isn't too outdoorsy, they probably won't want a high-energy Border collie. Understanding dog breed sizes, energy level, care needs, and activity levels and matching them to you and your family is important. Will you want a dog that needs regular grooming, or a three-mile run every day? Or would you be better off with a couch potato, or a dog somewhere in the middle? What about a puppy, which needs training and housebreaking, vs. an older dog, which may just need refreshers on those things and may be easier to handle?

Plan a daily routine for you and your dog

Show your parents that you can establish a daily routine for your activities. Better yet, make this a presentation in which you can include what you'll do before and after school daily-and on weekends. Make sure you remember to include after-school obligations and activities, homework, and playtime. "I also recommend focusing on the daily activities and weekly or monthly needs for bathing and nail trims," says Dr. Michelle Burch at Safe Hounds Pet Insurance. Dr. Burch says if you want to show your parents you're responsible enough to handle a dog, do your chores, pick up extra ones, and help out without being asked.

Are you willing to pitch in some money?

Even when you adopt a dog from a shelter it comes with some fees and new costs: toys, food, a crate, or dog bed. And even healthy pets need vet care for checkups and vaccinations. This means it costs some money to be a good dog owner and your parents must be willing to pay for it. But you can still pitch in, especially if you're serious about really wanting a dog.

If you're not old enough to work a traditional job, what about lawn care or babysitting money? Are you willing to contribute for dog toys and food sometimes? Let your parents know. Dr. Burch says you can talk with a vet office to find out some of the costs of owning a dog and what routine vet checkups and vaccines cost. (P.s. Learning this information will likely impress your parents, too!)

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Consider fostering a dog

Have you thought about fostering a dog? Your local shelter or Humane Society likely has a fostering program where dogs that need to recover from an illness or get a break from the shelter can come and stay at your house for a few weeks to a few months until they are ready to be adopted. "To show how dedicated you are you may offer to foster a shelter dog for a few weeks; proving your commitment," says Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon, and consultant for FiveBarks, a dog advice site.

Fostering may be a great way to "try out" what having a dog is like before committing to it forever.

So, if you're serious about convincing your parents to get a dog, try some of these steps to show how committed you are, what you're willing to do, and that you've done your doggie homework.