Young Children and Dogs

Boy and his pup

Searching online for an article that addressed the issues of dogs and children I came across the Sacramento SPCA (www.sspca.org) which had some good tips and information in selecting the right dog to be around your child.

Puppies are cute and there is no better picture moment than that of a child holding one. However, puppies are babies too. They are very energetic and take a lot of patience, time, and supervision (just like a young child). A child may want to play with the puppy and inadvertently hurt it by being too rough. Puppies also have sharp teeth, and in their playful mood may knock a child down. Should you decide to get a puppy for your child be sure to properly supervise both of them to minimize the chances of either getting hurt.

Adult dogs do require less attention. However, the key with bringing a new adult dog into your home is to help the dog make the adjustment to your family. The family will need to spend time with any new dog, gauging its responses and reactions particularly towards your child. Adopting a dog that has a good history with children is important, and your local shelter should be able to assist you in this regard.

The SSPCA suggests that if you have a child under the age of six you adopt a dog over the age of two. Small dogs with young children may not be the best fit as they may be more easily injured and tend to become frightened by loud noises. Larger dogs may be able to tolerate the rough play, noise, and activities associated with young children.

The breed of dog can be an important decision as well. Labradors and golden retrievers usually make for good family pets, while those breeds that have a more protective behavior (Chows and Rottweilers) may not be the best choice.

Remember that while you may be getting a dog for your child it is unrealistic to think that they will be the one taking care of it. The chores of feeding, walking, grooming, and cleaning up after a dog will ultimately fall upon your shoulders.

All dogs have their own temperament and personality. You can always seek advice prior to getting a dog for your family by contacting your local animal shelter or SPCA.

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