Pet Insurance

How to Convince Your Parents to Get a Dog

The best tips for persuading your parents to get a dog. Learn the real benefits of dog ownership to help sway your parents, and some little tricks to get them imagining life with a beloved dog. Also learn about practical matters like costs and how to save money on a dog.

If you want to make your childhood complete by getting a dog, your parents might need convincing first. You'll have the most luck getting your parents on board by thinking one step ahead of them. Pestering alone probably won't get you anywhere! Research the benefits of owning a dog, practical stuff like breed, costs, vets, etc. and try to subtly influence your parents. A dog can complete a family but there's a lot of work involved too.

If you think your parents would make good puppy parents, then use our tips to slowly bring your parents around. Sometimes parents are too practical so you can show them how wonderful a dog would be for your family.

Discuss Benefits of Dog Ownership

Owning a dog can teach kids responsibility, reduce stress levels and encourage outdoor activity, among other things.

  • Gets your family out walking. They say teenagers open up to parents more when they're on a dog walk together. Also, no one is on screens during a dog walk!
  • Dog hugs. Sometimes you can't explain your problems to another person, but a dog is always a good listener.
  • Reduce stress. Spending time with a dog can lower anxiety and blood pressure, so people in your family feel more happy and relaxed. (Tell your parents that a dog can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in your body.) Walking in nature does the same thing. A double win!
  • Teaches kids responsibility. An easy, natural way for kids to learn to put someone else (their dog) before themselves—e.g., a dog needs walking before you can leave him to go to the cinema. Plus, kids learn a new level of communication skills, as dogs are so sensitive to body language and tone of voice.
  • Dogs are always happy to see you. Like, really happy. When your parents come home after a long day, guess who is usually the happiest to see them? (It goes something like this: "You're home! You're home! I didn't think you were ever coming back! You were gone so long! I missed you so much! You're hooooome! I'm so happy! Yippee!!!!") And having a dog makes coming back from holiday MUCH easier, because you have something to look forward to (picking up your dog!)

Using Questions

Adults can be rubbish at imagining but you can help them picture life with a dog. By discussing the idea of a dog in a non-confrontational way, you'll plant the seed and subtly get your parents comfortable. A great way to start is by asking questions to engage your parents in a conversation. You can discuss dog names, where a dog would sleep, where you'd walk it, etc.

It's critical to start the conversation in an unassuming way (so your parents don't go on guard). For instance, say "I know we probably won't ever get a dog, but if we did, what would we name it? I like..." Then throw out one or two suggestions that you have. Discuss whether a human name (e.g., Barney or Rosey) or a silly name (e.g., Chewbacca or Milkshake) is better. We know "Milkshake" is an absurd name for a dog, but your parents will probably say so, too—Bam, conversation started!

Movies & Books

Another way to help persuade your parents indirectly is through movies and books. For instance, watch a few dog movies together as a family. Benji is a classic about a boy who goes on a mission to find his two favorite children after they're kidnapped. My Dog Skip is about the friendship between a boy and his dog. Turner & Hooch is a comedy starring Tom Hanks that will have your family laughing. Old Yeller shows responsibility but beware it is very sad. Dr. Doolittle is a family comedy that actually led to our family getting a dog named "Lucky"!

Depending on your parents' sense of humor, you may want to avoid watching Marley & Me. While Marley is beloved, he absolutely wrecks the house. Not the message for your parents at this critical time!

You can also request some dog-themed books to read. Try "Going Home" by Cliff McNish, "One Dog and His Boy" by Eva Ibbotson and "The Dog Who Lost His Bark" by Eoin Colfer. Asking for dog-themed books is especially powerful for children who don't normally read a lot. If a dog in a book gets you reading, imagine the good influence a real dog would have.

Costs & Responsibilities of Dog Ownership

Dogs are expensive, so it's no surprise that cost is one of the common reasons parents say no. Show them you understand the costs involved in owning a dog, and respect the commitment. The table below shows potential costs of dog ownership. Read the section below to learn some ideas to save money on a dog, which you can discuss with your parents.

Dog Care Cost ItemsAverage Annual Cost
Dog Food£300
Dog Boarding (2 weeks)£420
Grooming (6X/year)£240
Flea & Tick Treatment, Wormer, etc.£120
Treats, toys, etc.£100
Pet insurance£300
Dental cleaning£230
Total Annual Cost to Own a Dog£1,770

Tips to Save Money on a Dog

Here a few ways to save money on a dog, which you can discuss with your parents:

  • Breed: Choose a mixed breed dog or a dog breed known to be healthy to save your parents lots of money in vet fees and pet insurance over your dog's life. Some breeds are just more unhealthy than other breeds. For example, the cost of pet insurance is 3.5 times more for a Bulldog than for a Border Terrier. Choosing the right breed could potentially save your parents £1,000 a year in pet insurance premiums versus choosing an unhealthy breed.
  • Where you get your dog: Buying a young puppy can cost anywhere from £400 to £1,400, or even more. Dogs from popular breeders or pedigree dogs can cost the most. Adopting a rescue dog from a shelter is much cheaper. For instance, Battersea Cats and Dogs charges £135 for dogs over six months or £165 for puppies under six months. But many rescue dogs are not suitable for younger children, and are only suitable if the "kids" in your family are teenagers.
  • Size: Choosing a smaller dog may save your family money over time. Smaller dogs eat less and require smaller dog beds or crates. Plus, medications like wormer, flea and tick treatment will cost less for a smaller dog, as they're dosed by weight.
  • Coat: A non-shedding dog like a Cockapoo will require more frequent trips to the dog groomer than a shedding dog. Non-shedding dogs keep growing hair like humans, so they need haircuts every 6 to 8 weeks. A groomer can easily cost £40 for a shampoo and trim, which might cost more than your mum's haircut.
  • Dog Boarding: If you go away, dog boarding can be quite expensive—costing anywhere from £10 a night up to £40 or more in some places. Kennels, whilst cheaper, are quite impersonal for a family dog. Another money-saving option is to find someone who would like to borrow your dog for free on BorrowMyDoggy.

Find a Local Vet

Ask your friends at school which vet their family uses. You can also look on Google maps to find vets in your area and check reviews. Make a list of possible vets for your family, so your parents don't have to.

When Your Parents Still Say No

These tips are pretty effective, but they're really only intended to convince parents who like dogs and would, at the end of the day, welcome a dog into the family. You don't want to coerce or trick your parent if they wouldn't make a good dog mum or dad, just gently persuade them. A dog needs just as much patience and love as a child.

Plan B

Some families just don't have the resources to devote to a dog. A dog is expensive and takes a lot of time and energy. For instance, if both your parents work outside of the house then a dog really isn't suitable. Plus some people just don't like dogs. If your parents don't feel that buying a dog is a responsible thing to do, that's ok. Maybe you'll have a dog when you're an adult instead.

If your parents like the idea of a dog, but it doesn't work for practical reasons, there may be an alternative. There are ways to borrow someone else's dog, for instance through the BorrowMyDoggy site. On this website, borrowers and owners find each other and help each other out. For instance, perhaps you can find an owner who needs someone to look after their dog some weekends. You get a dog to spend time with when the owner is away, but the owner is ultimately responsible for the dog.

Finding a dog owner in your area who needs occasional dog sitting or walking might be a great alternative for your family. Not only would it give you a dog to know, love and play with, but your parents might be keen on the idea because then they're off the hook for buying a dog. Keep in mind that not all dogs are suitable for children and finding the right dog might take some patience. Borrowing a dog to "test out" dog ownership can also be beneficial if your parents need extra convincing.

Good luck!

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.