Growing up with a dog can be a rewarding and positive experience for children. However, if you are choosing a new dog for your family, keep in mind that not all dogs are compatible with children. Careful planning is necessary if you want to start off on the right foot with your new member of the family. First of all, parents must invest the time to teach the dog and the child acceptable limits of behavior in order to make their interactions pleasant and safe.
Are you considering a puppy? Think twice!
Puppies require a lot of time, patience, training, housebreaking, and supervision. They also need to be taken places and exposed to new things and new people in order for them to grow to be well adjusted, socialized pets. Although puppies can be a lot of fun, and it’s exciting and rewarding to help them grow into wonderful companions, they do require significantly more time to train and supervise than an adult dog would. Do you have the necessary time to invest in your new puppy, in addition to caring for your children? If the answer is “yes”, then by all means adopt a puppy. If not, chose an adult dog.
Choosing an adult dog
Select a dog based on his temperament and individual characteristics, rather than on looks or breed type. Also consider how much time is required to maintain the dog with activities like grooming, training and exercise. Make numerous visits to an animal shelter with your family to interact with the dog. See if the shelter has a canine behaviorist on staff and learn as much as you can from him or her. He or she will assist you in choosing a dog who is tolerant, friendly, moderately active and obedient -the best traits to have when raising a dog with children - and should also instruct you how to be the “pack leader” to make sure the dog follows your household rules.
Who will care for the dog?
Remember that although you may be getting the dog “for your kids,” you will be the person who is responsible for your dog’s care and training. It’s unrealistic to expect a child to have sole responsibility for the care of a family dog. Teaching a dog the rules of the house and helping him be a good companion is too overwhelming a task for a young child. You must be prepared and willing to be the dog’s primary caregiver. Not only do dogs need basic things like food, water, and shelter, they also need to be played with, exercised, and trained on a consistent basis.
Dogs and Kids: Think “safety first” at all times!
Dog safety education begins with you. Children do not understand that all dogs have the potential of biting someone. Do not encourage your children to approach strange dogs without the owner’s permission. Also, even with your own family’s dog, small children should never be left alone with a dog or puppy without parental supervision. This is for the safety of both the child and the pet, to minimize the chance of either being injured.
With these tips, you’ll be able to raise a happy family with a canine as part of your pack!