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What’s the Best Age for Your Child to Get a Dog? Signs, Facts & FAQ

Written by: Melissa Gunter

Last Updated on July 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

child hugging the dog

What’s the Best Age for Your Child to Get a Dog? Signs, Facts & FAQ

A child and their dog are a beautiful connection. Parents often have dreams of sitting on their porch, watching the kids frolic in the yard with their canine best friend. While this dream is easily achievable with the number of dogs out in the world needing a home, knowing when to make the dream a reality is crucial.

Dogs are a huge responsibility, especially for children. If parents weren’t already dog owners when their child was born, it’s natural for them to wonder what’s the best age for their child to get a dog. While every little one is different, most feel that between the ages of 5 and 8 is a great time to make a dog part of the family.

Let’s learn more about children and dogs, and how you can determine if your little ones are ready for the responsibility of taking care of a new best friend.


Signs Your Child Is Ready for a Dog

No matter your child’s age, you’ll see certain signs when your child is ready for a canine best pal. Parents who have been dog owners throughout their lives may pick up on these signs easily. Parents who aren’t overly familiar with having pets may not.

To help parents from both walks of life, here are a few signs to watch for when trying to determine whether your child is ready for a pet:

  • Your child can physically take on a few age-appropriate chores around the house without getting upset about it. Dogs are a big responsibility so your little one must be physically and mentally ready for it.
  • A child shows true interest and a genuine desire to have a pet. When they encounter a dog away from home, they show curiosity and ask questions.
  • The child can show empathy and care for others.
  • They understand basic survival needs like food, water, and shelter and why they are important for a dog to be healthy.
  • A child should also understand the importance of socialization, toys, playing, and exercise when it comes to having a happy dog.
  • Your child can be gentle. A child may exhibit this when around younger children or when you visit friends and family who already have dogs in the home.
  • The child should also be old enough to understand the permanence of bringing a dog into their lives. They need to understand the dog will be part of the family and that they can’t send it away if they get upset or bored.

When a child begins to exhibit these signs of being ready for a dog, it’s a good time for the parents to begin the discussion about bringing a pet into the home.

Cocker Spaniel puppy and Asian boy under a tree
Image Credit: Jeanette Virginia Goh, Shutterstock

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Being the Adult in the Situation

No matter how much your child promises to help with a dog, ultimately, the adults are the ones responsible for the new member of the family and ensuring all children in the household are safe. This is a big task.

Your little one may do great with the dog, take it for walks when needed, and keep the food bowl full, but you must be ready for the responsibility as well.

Here are a few signs to help you know you’re prepared for the task at hand:

  • You want a dog too. Sure, making your child’s dreams come true is one thing, but if you aren’t a fan of pets, the responsibility and commotion may become overwhelming. Don’t force it on yourself or anyone else in the home.
  • Time is a big factor when it comes to a dog. If the parents are too busy to help out when the kids are in school, it may not work. Someone who loves animals, other than the children, should have the time to dedicate to making a dog part of the family.
  • Are you prepared to teach your children how to interact with a dog? This is a big part of bringing a dog into the family. Children need to be taught how to be around a dog without scaring or hurting it. This means constant supervision.
  • Are you prepared to train the dog? Yes, kids are great at playing with the pup, but it will be up to the parents to ensure the dog learns where and when to go potty, how to play gently with little ones, and other basic household rules.
  • You can handle a little chaos. As a parent, you already know what this means. Rambunctious kids, upset children, and the all-out chaos of a big day at home are only magnified when you add a dog to the mix. If you can deal with the wildness without pulling your hair out, you may be ready to have kids and a dog.

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Choosing the Right Dog

When you feel that both you and your children are ready to bring a pet into the home, the biggest decision is choosing the right dog. Every family is different and should choose a dog that suits them.

Sure, you want a cute dog, but if the cute dog gets scared at the sound of loud noises or doesn’t seem to like kids, it may not be your new family member. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right dog for your family.

kid and german shepherd dog puppy
Image Credit: Stone36, Shutterstock


Temperament is key with a dog. A dog breed that shares a like mindset with your child is a great choice. If your kiddo is outgoing, loud, and loves to play, so should their dog. The same can be said for shy, more reserved children.

Living Situation

Your living situation also plays a significant role in choosing a dog. If you live in a small home or an apartment, you won’t have room for a Great Dane or St. Bernard. You also need to factor in whether you have a place outside for an active breed to exercise.


Lifestyle is another big thing to consider before bringing a dog into the home. If you aren’t an overly active family, a dog that is more chill and happy while snuggling with the family may be your best option. You wouldn’t want to choose a breed that requires tons of exercise.

This could result in them becoming bored and taking it out on your home.

kid playing with his dog with automatic fetch toy
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock


The costs of dogs are also something you should factor in when choosing a breed. Yes, food, toys, and bedding are all important, but your pet will also need routine veterinary care. Overall, you’ll find that larger dog breeds cost more. They eat more and cost more for veterinarian care.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be part of the family, just be aware of this before making your decision.


The breed should be a factor. You want to choose a dog breed that is known to do well with children. Potentially aggressive dog breeds wouldn’t be a great first choice for a child.


Finally, look for a connection. Whether you’re adopting or working with a reputable breeder in your area, you and your child will connect to the right dog when you meet it. You’ll feel it. Don’t ignore that feeling.

golden retriever with a kid
Image Credit: Rebecca Scholz, Pixabay

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Always Supervise Your Child

Now, comes the most important thing you should remember when bringing a dog into your child’s life: supervision. It’s going to happen at some point. No matter how gentle your child is with the family dog, they are going to accidentally step on their tail or pull at the dog too hard.

Some dogs will react and try to correct your child when this happens. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll bite, but they may growl or snap to stop the situation.

Unfortunately, in some situations, biting could happen. This is why it is so crucial that parents always supervise their children when they are interacting and playing with any pet. The dog may belong to your child or be your child’s best friend, but ultimately, you are the adult in the room and responsible for overseeing everything and making sure both humans and animals are always safe.

family with dog
Image Credit: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock



As you can see, there are a lot of factors that play a part when determining the best age for your child to get a dog. While bringing a dog into the family is a heartwarming situation, it also deserves a proper amount of thought and consideration.

As a parent, it’s up to you to make the final decision. When you feel the time is right, welcome your new family member with open arms and be prepared for the countless memories you will share.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: FamVeld, Shutterstock

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