Dogs and Kids Together – Is It A Good Idea?

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There are loads of reasons to get a dog, especially if there are children in the family. Many people have wonderful childhood memories of going for walks, playing and spending time with their canine best friend. 

Dogs teach kids about responsibility, because they need to be fed and cared for. They bring compassion into a child’s world, since ultimately they will need to deal with the loss of their loved dog. But pups are also fun-loving, joyful friends, who are always there for you, and kids appreciate and respond to that devotion and reliability. No matter what, their happy dog is always there for them.

The flip-side, unfortunately, is many ER doctors have also had to attend to kids who have been bitten by their family dog. This can be for a variety of reasons, and the event is always shocking and unexpected. Many of these incidents occur, not because the dog is vicious, but simply because stress was introduced into a situation.

Both the dog, and the kids, need to be taught some rules about how to live together safely and enjoyably. The dog needs to know their place in the pack, and the children require help to learn about the boundaries, and vulnerabilities of a dependent animal.

What Age of Dog Should I Get?

Babies and toddlers are normally very inquisitive, and tactile. They think nothing of jumping on a dog, or going very close to the dog’s face. This is something that dog’s, generally, don’t like. 

It can be difficult to choose an appropriate dog. Puppies are not suitable, since they can be easily hurt, but an older dog can also be uncomfortable with a toddler. A calm, patient, adult dog is best, but even then, supervision is needed to keep everyone safe.

It’s much easier for older children who have more spatial awareness, and an ability to understand how to look after a dog. They can benefit hugely from growing up with a puppy, or an adult dog.

What kids need to know before having a dog?

All interactions with dogs should be age-appropriate, and initially, fully supervised. It’s easy for us, as adults, to think something is obvious. It’s not obvious to the child, and certainly not to the dog. One of the biggest mistakes that is made is the idea that dogs THINK like humans. They really are just like kids in the way they process their immediate situation.

Share this Dog Safety Tips For Kids resource with the family. It’s a short, easy read and covers a lot of ground. 

Is There A Perfect Breed Of Dog For Families?

No, but there are some breeds that usually adjust well to family life. Even then, dogs who appear calm and unshakeable can react badly when stressed. 

Many factors come into play, such as the temperament, age, training and experience of the dog. The type of family life, input and teaching from adults in the house, all have a huge impact on the success of bringing dogs and children together.

Mixed breed dogs can be a great option. The good thing about these pups is that they are available in abundance at shelters, just waiting to be adopted to their forever home. Mixed dogs tend to have less allergies and breed specific health issues. They are just as likely to have a beautiful temperament as a pedigree dog, so definitely consider adopting a ‘mutt’.

If you decide to go ahead and add a dog to your family, you’ll have years of fun, joy and unconditional love. Just a little bit of thought and planning will help make the whole adventure safe, successful and happy.

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