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The Right Dog for Children

By: Sandy Bolan - Updated: 2 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Children Dogs Suitable Dogs Family Dogs

For many people, the family is not complete until the pitter-patter of four furry paws can be heard alongside the pitter-patter of young children.

But bringing a dog, whether it is a puppy, adult, purebred or mixed breed, into the family, is a huge decision that must be made with a lot of thought and consideration.

A Dog to Suit Your Needs
Not only do you have to consider your personal wants from the dog, you also have to take into consideration how the dog will cope with your children and fit into your lifestyle.

If you are a family that is constantly running to football and hockey practices or ballet and piano lessons, you may want to re-think getting a dog, because no matter the breed, size or age, your dog will require having his own needs attended to, which include being fed, walked, played with and obedience trained. An ignored dog can become destructive and difficult to live with.

Your ideal dog will be able to keep up with the children all day long, but happily take a mid-day nap alongside them.

The Age of Your Children
You also have to take into consideration the age of your children. Most experts recommend waiting until your children are school-aged or between five and seven years of age, before adding a dog to the family.

This is for a couple of reasons.

The first being that children at this age are old enough to be taught how to act properly around a dog. Children are often unaware of their own strength and they can, and will, unintentionally play a 'bit too rough' with the dog, which can rile the dog and get him over excited and unmanageable by the child.

Children also need to be taught that pulling on the dog's ears or tails, poking him with sticks etc., playing tug-of-war or jumping onto a sleeping dog - no matter how easy-going the dog may be, is unacceptable. Doing any of these things to a dog can get him angry and cause the dog to bark at the children in a defensive manner they may find frightening, or worse, the dog may even bite the child who is doing these things to him.

No matter how well your children and dog get along, they can never be left alone together as no dog is 100 per cent safe and no child is 100 per cent well-behaved, especially when no one is looking.

The Age of Your Dog
The second thing you need to consider is whether or not you want a puppy or adult dog - one that is six months or older.

If you have the time to attend to all of the needs of a puppy - potty breaks every two to three hours, high energy levels and obedience training, then getting a puppy will enable you to train him and your children how to behave around each other.

But if you don't have the time or inclination to go through the potty training phase of puppy hood, then a dog that is six months or older may be more suitable. Dogs at this age will typically already be housebroken and have some obedience training, especially of the basic commands - sit, down, stay and come. These dogs may also already be spayed or neutered, which helps to cut down on the potential for your dog acting aggressively towards children who may unwittingly play a little rough with the dog.

Where to Get Your Dog
Another issue to consider is where you will get your dog from. If you want a puppy, then a reputable breeder is your best bet. Some shelters or rescue groups have puppies available from time to time, but for the most part, they only have older dogs.

If you are going to get a purebred dog, again, a reputable breeder will have puppies as well as, on occasion, older dogs, available. You can also try breed-specific rescue groups. If you just want a cute, cuddly and well-mannered dog, then rescue shelters and humane societies are a good choice.

When getting a mixed breed, you should find out, as much as possible, what his or her parentage is as this will help you figure out how big he or she will be, if he/she isn't already full-grown.

You want to know what his final size is going to be because you don't want to get a dog so large that he is going to knock your children down with one wag of the tail or an exuberant romp pass them. You also don't want a dog that is so small he won't be able to handle the roughhousing that occurs when children and dogs get together.

Knowing what breeds the parents were will also give you some idea of his/her temperament.Whether you get your dog from a breeder or rescue agency, pay attention to everything the breeder or shelter worker tells you about the dog's background and temperament, especially in regards to children. You may find that the dog you love and want is really not the one most suited to you and your family.

What Breed
Below is a list of breeds that because of their loyalty, trainability, and tolerance to children, have been shown to be good family dogs. However, you need to remember, that each dog has a unique personality and just because a certain breed has a reputation for being good around children, it does not mean that it is guaranteed.

Airedale, Beagle, Bichone Frise, Boxer, Cairn Terrier, Collie, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundlander, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Pug, Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, Standard Poodle and Whippet.

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