What’s the best age to get a puppy or dog for kids?

Bringing a dog into your family can be an incredibly joyful and rewarding experience, especially for children. The bond between kids and dogs is often magical, offering unmatched companionship. However, one question that frequently arises for parents is, “What’s the best age to get a puppy or dog for kids?” It’s an important consideration that requires careful thought and planning to ensure a positive and successful integration of a four-legged companion into your family home. 

There is no clear answer for when your child will be ready to have a dog or when the ideal time will be. Depending on your children’s age, maturity, allergies, personality, and willingness to help will all be factors to consider. All Family members should discuss what is important to each of them when it comes to choosing a dog. Although young puppies are wonderful and so darn cute, your family might decide that an adult dog is best for them at this time. And that is perfect too and so many older dogs need forever homes! Whatever you decide, it will be the best decision for your family.

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My opinion on the right age to bring a puppy into your home

baby laying with  a dog

Newborn or baby (up to 1 year old)

Not a great idea to get a new puppy or a dog when you have a new baby in the house. Especially when you are a first-time parent. A new baby is a lot of work and the dog may not get the attention that it needs to be trained properly. Don’t add more stress to yourself by getting a dog. I’m not saying that it’s impossible or there are not people who have had a new baby and also a new puppy. It’s just a mountain I would not choose to climb.

Toddler (12 months – 4 years old)

Tricky age because little kids are so cute and seeing them with dogs is even cuter. But, most young children still depend fully on their parents for most of their basic needs. And so will a dog. It’s possible to take in a new puppy with a toddler and have a lot of fun with it, but it will be hard work. Don’t think it will all be cuteness and fun.

It’s not something I would do but I also have high anxiety so my 3 and 6-year-old kiddos are enough for me to take on for now. I do take in dogs for Rover, family, friends, and fostering. This allows me to have lots of different dogs around and for my kids to be exposed to a lot of different dogs. But, I want to wait a few more years before we decide to jump into the puppy world again.

I’m not wanting to toilet-train my 3-year-old while also house-training a puppy. I do believe that exposing children to dogs from an early age is important though so they learn to be gentle and respectful of dogs vs thinking they are toys.

5 years old to pre-teen

Great age and in my opinion the perfect age range for a puppy or new dog to be welcomed into a new home. Your kiddos or kids are becoming self-sufficient, and learning about responsibility, can help with feeding the dog and playing with the dog and it can be a great family activity. Keep in mind that this period of your kiddo’s life brings about many weekend activities and weeknight sports. This would leave your new puppy alone a lot, so consider your schedule and carpooling situation as well. There are also service dogs, guide dogs, and emotional support dogs that can create the strongest bonds with children who may need extra support. Find out more about service dogs and their cost and time commitment to training here in this blog post.

The Teen Years

I think that this could be exactly what a teenager needs to teach them responsibility, loyalty, and love. A dog is known to be man’s best friend. I find that many teenagers need a best friend for these interesting years. But, it’s also the time when your teenager is going out with friends, getting ready for school dances, thinking about college, and maybe taking trips with their friends. So the responsibility of the dog might fall back onto the parents so keep that in mind.

Keep reading the sections below to learn other important factors to consider when thinking about bringing a dog into your home with children. Each section provides different things to think through as a family before deciding on a puppy or dog such as allergies and dog size.

Factor 1: Your Child’s Maturity Level

It’s important to consider your child’s maturity level and assess their readiness to take on the responsibilities that come with owning a puppy. Evaluating their capabilities will ensure the well-being of the dog. It will also help foster a positive and fulfilling relationship between your child and their furry friend. Here are some essential aspects to consider when assessing your child’s maturity:

Understand Boundaries

Owning a puppy requires setting and respecting boundaries. Your child should be able to comprehend and follow instructions regarding appropriate handling and when to give the puppy space. They should understand that dogs have their limits and that respecting those limits is crucial for the safety and well-being of both the puppy and themselves. This means not pulling on the dog’s tail or kicking the dog. Kids react in different ways and it does not mean the kid is bad. But many toddlers react aggressively because they don’t know any better yet. If your child has behavior issues, it’s important to consider the transition for them as well. Bringing a new dog into their home can be a lot of a little mind to wrap their head around.

Sense of Responsibility

Owning a puppy involves a significant level of responsibility. Assess your child’s ability to take on tasks such as feeding, walking, and providing fresh water for the puppy. They should understand the importance of a routine and be willing to contribute to the care and well-being of their new furry companion. This may require a parent’s supervision or doing it as a family if the child is small or still needs to learn a few puppy things. 

Patience and Empathy

Puppies require patience and understanding as they go through the learning process. Assess whether your child can handle the occasional accidents, teething, and playful nips that puppies may exhibit. They need to develop empathy and recognize that puppies are still learning and growing. Let me say that again, puppies nip or in other words bite. Just like a toddler child sometimes bites. They are not necessarily being aggressive and of course, you want to redirect this behavior. But if you have a small child or a baby, it can be worrisome if you have a puppy that nips a lot.

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Assessing your child’s maturity level is essential when considering a new puppy. 

It ensures that they are ready to take on the responsibilities and challenges that come with pet ownership. By involving your child in the decision-making process and setting realistic expectations, you can foster a loving and responsible bond between your child and their new furry companion. Remember, every child is different, so take the time to assess your child’s readiness and provide them with the necessary guidance and support as they embark on this exciting journey of owning a puppy. It’s fun and cute but it’s also work and time-consuming. Your child will need to be reminded of that in the journey as they are still learning their emotions, how to take care of themselves, and their boundaries. 

Factor 2: Dog Breed

Different breeds possess distinct characteristics, temperaments, and energy levels that can greatly impact the compatibility and dynamics within your family. Choosing the right breed that aligns with your family’s lifestyle, preferences, and needs is essential when you start to research what dog to bring into your home with children. Here are some aspects to consider when selecting a dog breed:

Temperament and Disposition: 

Dog breeds vary widely in their temperament and disposition. Some breeds are known for their calm and gentle nature, making them ideal for families with small children. Check out this dog post here to learn about the best family-friendly dogs. Other breeds may be more active, independent, or protective. Consider the temperament traits that will complement your family’s lifestyle and the age range of your children. Do you prefer a playful and energetic companion or a more laid-back and easygoing dog? Answer that question first before you dig into breeds so you don’t take on more than you can take on.

Size and Physical Characteristics: 

The size of the dog breed should be carefully considered, particularly when small children are involved. Small dogs, such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or the Beagle, may be more suitable for families with limited space or where the risk of accidental injuries is a concern. On the other hand, larger breeds, like a Labrador Retriever or a Golden Retriever, can often be gentle and patient, making them great choices for families with energetic kids. But these breeds also grow to be large dogs. You will want to make sure you have training in place to reduce the jumping.

We had two beautiful golden doodles at our house and they were the sweetest. Unfortunately, one was playing with my 6-year-old son and jumped on him and knocked him down. It was an accident and I should have been watching more carefully but it happened. Accidents happen but you will want to try and reduce them through proper training with larger dogs. Also, many think that a toy breed is a good idea for their home. This might not be the case if you have small children who don’t know how to be gentle just yet. Be sure to consider what is in the best interests of every member of your family when it comes to the size of the dog as a puppy and as they grow.

Exercise and Activity Level

The exercise and activity requirements of different dog breeds can vary significantly. Some breeds, such as Border Collies or Australian Shepherds, have high energy levels and thrive in environments where they can receive ample exercise and mental stimulation. Other breeds, like Bulldogs or Basset Hounds, may have lower energy levels and be content with shorter walks or play sessions. Consider your family’s activity level and ensure that you can provide the necessary exercise and stimulation for the chosen breed. Think about your day-to-day life and how a dog would be incorporated into it. Would spending an hour each day walking a dog or taking them to the dog park, not fit in? Then you may consider a smaller breed like the Corgi. Or are you looking for a dog to take on long hikes and camping trips? Then an Australian Shepherd might be perfect for you!

Allergies and Shedding

If anyone in your family has allergies or sensitivities to pet dander, it’s crucial to choose a dog breed that is hypoallergenic or has minimal shedding. Breeds such as Poodles, Bichon Frises, or Portuguese Water Dogs are known for being hypoallergenic or having hair instead of fur, making them suitable choices for allergy sufferers. Just be sure to have your child be around the dog first before you commit. You never know about allergies and some are worse than others.

Remember, each dog breed is unique, and individual dogs within a breed can have their own personalities and traits. Researching and understanding the breed’s characteristics and considering your family’s specific requirements will help you make an informed decision and find the perfect match for your household. Avoid puppy mills and pet shops for all the obvious reasons when finding your dog. Be sure to research dog breeders and check out your local dog shelter, or humane society for a rescue puppy. Also, sometimes it makes sense to foster a pup and you might just have a “failed foster” on your hands. This means you end up adopting your foster puppy and giving them a forever home. 

 Choosing a dog is an important time for you and your family and it's important to think through it carefully before bringing a new puppy home.


Deciding on the best age or best time to introduce a puppy or dog into your family is a big deal.  While there is no definitive answer, several factors should be taken into account to ensure a successful and positive integration.

Assessing your child’s maturity level is crucial. Consider their understanding of boundaries, sense of responsibility, patience, empathy, consistency in following instructions, and emotional readiness. Evaluating these aspects will help determine if your child is ready for the responsibilities that come with owning a pet. First-time puppy owners often find it a lot more work than anticipated. Check out this puppy checklist to think about the things you will need for your new fur baby before they come into your home. Just remember a puppy’s first year is usually the hardest for a pet owner. But, your new family member will learn the house rules you put in place sooner rather than later!

The choice of dog breed is also significant. Each breed has its temperament, energy level, and compatibility with children. Consider factors such as the breed’s disposition, size, exercise needs, allergenic qualities, and trainability to find a breed that matches your family’s lifestyle and preferences. Female dogs and male dogs also have different personality traits to take into consideration as well. 

By carefully evaluating your child’s maturity level and considering the traits of different dog breeds, you can make an informed decision about the ideal age to introduce a puppy or dog into your family. This thoughtful approach will set the stage for a  fulfilling relationship between your child and their new four-legged companion, creating lasting memories and a bond that will grow stronger over time. A puppy is hard work but such a good idea for kids to have a family dog growing up!


  1. Love this. I’ve seen many a good dog rehomed as the decision to bring them into the family was badly timed.

    Love your whole blog and the back story of Wes, I have a Belgian Shepherd and wish I’d had so much info when I set out onto dog mama life!

  2. What a beautiful way to honor Wes. Such a great post. Thank you for all the great tips you offer. I’ll be sharing with my dog loving friends! 🐶🦴🐾❤️

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