How to Convince Your Parents You're Ready for a Dog

My name is Montana Dewberry. I am a 13-year-old girl who loves animals. Over the years, I have loved and cherished three cats, two hamsters and numerous fish. I have always been very involved with animals - I even volunteered at an animal shelter nearby for a while.

I had never had a dog before and I decided to write the essay below because I wanted one more than anything. My dad wasn't too sure about bringing another pet into our house. He didn't know if I was ready for the responsibility of a dog. So I decided to convince him with a 2,000-word paper on the important things people should know about dogs and being a dog owner.

After my dad read my essay, he came home with our new fluffy friend, Scout, (pictured at right and below) a few weeks later. It was a huge surprise...and I had no idea just how much you become attached to an animal. Every morning I get to wake up to his sweet, furry face. No matter what I do, he is always excited to see me. My family and I had no idea how much fun a dog was, until we got one. He may be full of everlasting energy, but he keeps us on our toes and he always has a big sloppy kiss ready to give.

Here, for all the kids out there who need a little help convincing their parents to add a dog to the family, is my essay.

What Every New Dog Owner Should Know

If you are thinking about getting a puppy, you'll want to make sure that the puppy is right for you. First, you want to make sure the dog is child-friendly if you have kids. You want to figure out what size of dog you want and the energy level of dog you want. Then you need to start looking at good places to get your dog. This process could take a while but it's worth it. You may want to go to many different shelters and ethical breeders to make sure you have found the right dog. You really want to make sure that you and your family get along with the new puppy.

What You'll Need to Start

When adopting a new dog into the family, there are many supplies you'll need. When your dog gets home, a water bowl, food bowl, leash, collar, and dog food should be right there waiting for him. You will also need to figure out where the closest veterinarian is located.

Optional supplies include: dog bed, dog toys, dog treats, dog crate, dog brush or comb, shampoo, puppy pee pads, and a dog carrier. At Petco.com I put all of the supplies listed above into the shopping cart and the total cost was $179.63, but the quality, size and place you buy these items may change the cost. I am willing to help pay for the cost of some of these items.

Dogs and Food

There are a lot of mix-ups on what dogs can and cannot eat. Pets should generally stay away from human food; they usually end up with a stomach ache. They should also avoid alcoholic beverages, baby food, cat food, cooked bones, coffee or anything containing caffeine.

Other dangerous foods include fat trimmings, citrus extracts, grapes, human vitamins, large amounts of nuts, milk or dairy products and much more. A lot of these foods are deadly to dogs. If they are not deadly, they could end up in the vet's office for many days. Watching what you pup eats is a big part of being a dog owner.


Daily Tasks for Dog Owners

A couple of daily tasks must be done to help your dog stay healthy and happy. First your dog must be feed the right amount of food every day. Their food should contain vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Lots of water must be given every day! The bigger the dog the more exercise he'll need. Studies show that if your puppy exercises every day they seem to be more calm and restless when left alone at home. The higher the energy level the more they need to exercise.

Grooming does not only make your dog look good but it also helps its growth. The better your dog is groomed, the less of the doggie odor you smell. Most people do not have time to groom their pooch, but at least once a week you should check your dog's teeth, hair, eyes and ears and just make sure they look happy and healthy. Training is very important for teaching your dog obedience. To train your dog you may need to take a training class for yourself, so you can learn the right techniques for teaching your dog. You can be trained through online videos, books or a real training class.

Dogs and Other Pets in the Home

If a puppy grows up with a cat he will just see it as part of the family. Before introducing your dog to the cat, make sure the puppy is trained and knows simple commands. When you are ready for the introduction, feed and walk the dog so it is in its calmest mood. Then put your dog on a leash or in a crate and let the cat approach the dog. If you have a scared cat you may want to put the cat in a separate crate close by so the cat can get used to the scent. If your dog and cat are calm reward them with treats. If they look aggressive, bark or hiss try to calm them down and maybe try again later on.

As the animals get used to being around each other, move the crates closer together. After days of the crate process, let them interact with each other with supervision. Once they are ready to be home alone together make sure that the cat's litter box and food bowl are out of your dog's reach. You also want to make sure the cat has a place to take a break from your playful puppy. So you may want to set aside a room with a gate for your cat. This may take a while so make sure to stay patient.

Where to Get Your Dog

I'm sure you are wondering where you want to get your new family member. Most people recommend shelters because you have a big variety to choose from. You also are giving that lucky dog you pick a second chance. Most of the puppies there have had tragic things happen to them. Some people do prefer to get their pooch from a breeder. With this choice you know what breed and size it will grow too. Depending on where you get your dog the prices will vary. Purebreds seem to cost more. When buying from a breeder ask what price range they would like. Make sure that the range is reasonable; you don't want to get ripped off. You and your family can decide what is best for your home. At most shelters, puppies cost around 70 dollars. No matter where you get your dog, unless the pup is already spayed or neutered you will have to pay for shots and certain surgeries depending on their gender.


When You Go on Vacation

When you go on a vacation or leave town for a couple days there are a couple things you can do. You could hire a dog sitter, give your puppy to a trusted family friend, or you can choose to board your dog. If you choose to give your dog to a family friend, you would want to make sure that person has enough time and space for your puppy. You also want to make sure that your friend is responsible and gets compensated for their services.

If you choose to board your dog you will have to pay around 60 or 70 dollars per day or night. At the kennel, your pooch will be able to interact will other dogs the same size and will be walked, fed and groomed. Last but not least, you could hire a dog sitter. A house sitter will watch over your puppy in your own home, so it has a familiar environment. The sitter can stay overnight at your home or just check in every couple of hours and make sure the puppy is fine. Remember to relax and have fun on your trip. You have put the puppy in the right hands if you follow these easy ideas.

The Dirty Work

Not everything you have to do for a puppy will be easy, so be prepared to do some dirty work. It might include bathing, picking up doggie doo doo and training your pooch. Here are some good tips for these difficult tasks:

For bathing, it is very important that you do use dog shampoo; human shampoo could be harmful for your pooch. You should bathe your puppy about once a month. Make sure to brush your dog before and after the tub. Place cotton balls in the doggie's ear to keep water from pouring in. Try not to get soap in the eyes, but if you do wash them with warm water. When you're done with the bath, make sure all the soap and shampoo is out of their hair and dry thoroughly.

There are several different ways to potty train a dog. You could take old newspapers or scented puppy pee pads and encourage your dog to do their business on them. Then you move the pee pads closer to the door and finally you move it outside the door. Then the dog will learn to go outside every time it needs to go to the bathroom.

Another option is crate training. Put your pup in a crate big enough for it to sleep in. The puppy won't want to have a soiled bed so it will control its bladder for many hours. Owners recommend only putting your dog in the crate when it is not being supervised or is home alone. After the dog gets use to the crate put him in the crate for less and less time. Then the dog will learn to hold its business till it is allowed to go outside.

If an accident does happen make sure to only punish the dog if you see it happen. The punishment should be verbal and next time he is doing the "go to go" dance open the door and let the pup go potty.

Simple commands should be taught to your dog early on in life. When teaching a dog a command, grab a dog treat and put it in front of their nose and do the command yourself. Then say your dog's name and the command you are trying to teach. When the pooch does the command, reward him with the dog treats. Then say "free" or "release." Repeat these steps several times a day and soon your dog will know every command around.

Walking Your Dog

I know walking a dog sounds like an easy task that anybody can do, but there are some good tips and rules to follow. Remember that you are the leader and that the dog doesn't walk you. You and your dog should walk side by side. All dogs should be taken on daily walks to help their health. Another good thing to remember is that it is OK for your dog to interact with other dogs, but if either dog shows any bit of aggressiveness you should keep walking.


Safety at Home

Make sure that when you come or leave home all the doors are locked and closed properly - this will prevent your dog from running away. Dogs can escape through windows, doors, fences or even under an obstacle. Make sure your dog always has a collar and ID on.

When visitors come, put your pooch in a room or in a crate till it is safe to come out. If your dog does escape, put up posters and flyers. Then call all the local shelters and pounds. After putting flyers up, check neighbor's homes and yards for any signs of your missing pooch. Try calling his or her name everywhere you look. If you see your dog, do not run, just drop to the ground and call his name. If you took obedience classes he might respond to "sit" or "come." Most dogs get lost when they go off leash in an unfamiliar place.

Speaking of names: once you have found the perfect name for your new pooch use the name constantly. Give the pup a treat when it responds when you call his name. Be patient and keep trying. Your dog may not catch on at first but eventually he will learn that "Snoopy" or "Fluffy" is his name. Once the name is learned you could call him other names like Baby, Sweetie, Pup or Honey.

Your Pup's First Day Home

When your new puppy is brought home, make sure to spend lots of time with him, so he gets used to the new environment. If you have any other pets at home, give them equal attention so they still feel loved. Bring your new pup to a room with all of his new toys, food and bed. This will be the "puppy" room for the next few days. Once the puppy has been in the house for a couple weeks he can explore other rooms.

If you follow any tips or instructions above it will help prepare our family for a puppy. I hope this essay will convince you to get a new family member for our household.

Editor's Note: We wish teens everywhere were as thorough as Montana was when researching the responsibilities of a new dog owner. We give her four paws up!