Consider yourself a salesperson when trying to convince your parents to get a dog. You’ll need to find out where they stand on the topic, address their objections and demonstrate how having a dog would be a positive and enriching experience for your entire family.
Making Your Case
When you’re living at home, your parents are the last word in whether you have pets. Even if you try to say you’ll handle all the work, they’re probably considering the life span of an average dog and assuming at some point you’ll move out, and the responsibility will become theirs. Asking for an older shelter dog might help with the longevity issue. Otherwise, the first step in convincing parents that pet ownership is a good idea is to do your research and arrange a time to present your case.
Don’t try to have the discussion with your parents when they’re tired or rushed. Instead, plan a time when you can sit down uninterrupted and talk about your proposal.
Do Your Homework
If you don’t already have a dog, you’re probably aware of what your parent’s objections are to having one. If not, ask them. Then sit down and figure out how to address each point. Listed below are some of the more common parental arguments and potential ways to make your case.
Cost: It costs a lot to raise a dog. In addition to food, toys and necessities you’ll also have vet bills. Along with regular checkups and vaccinations, you may have to contend with bills if your dog gets sick. If you have a young dog, spaying or neutering is part of responsible pet ownership, and that can be costly.
Solution: Talk to your local vet about what kinds of medical costs you can expect to incur during the course of a dog’s life. Try to be specific in describing the kind of dog you want so your vet can give you realistic numbers. Also, go to a pet supply store and price things such as leashes, collars, kennels, dog beds and a mid-range dog food. Check the serving size and do the calculations for how much it would cost to feed your dog per year.
If you have a job or get an allowance, you’ll want to consider offering to pitch in for some of these costs. It will help if you come to the negotiating table with a savings account already established.
Time Commitment: A dog is a big commitment for the entire family. Being a loving and responsible pet owner means training your dog, housebreaking him and socializing him so he gets along well with others. Dogs also need regular exercise and time with their family.
Solution: Develop a weekly schedule that shows when you would be responsible for the dog. For example, pencil yourself in to walk him and feed him before and after school and employ the help of a parent or other family member for other specific time periods. For example, you might agree to be the primary caretaker, but ask your mother to walk him on the afternoons you have sports practices.
Demonstrate your seriousness by regularly pitching in and doing chores around the house without having to be asked. Come up with contingency plans for who would care for your dog if no family members are available.
Mess: Even a housetrained dog adds mess to a household, and that means extra time spent cleaning and deodorizing.
Solution: Volunteer to take on cleaning duty, specifically vacuuming upholstery and cleaning up accidents. Another alternative is installation of a doggy door that leads to a fenced-in yard.
Have the Talk
Sit down with your parents and lay out all of your research. Describe the type of dog you want, focusing on his temperament and personality. Highlight positive things, such as companionship, protection and an increased propensity to get out and exercise more and be healthy. Invite your parents to voice their objections or to ask questions about your proposed plans. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you’ll do more research and get back to them.
If your parents seem on the fence about owning a dog, suggest serving as a foster family for a dog for a limited period of time to see how well the whole home does with a furry household companion.