Often the biggest question for pet loving parents is, “What is the best dog for my child?” Here are some tips that may help to decide the best dog for a happy and healthy family unit.
Dog Breed and Life History – Start Here If Possible
When first choosing a dog you always want to look at the breed’s genetic makeup. How was the dog raised? Where was the dog born? You should research the breed’s genetics and behavior traits to make sure there is no risk to your child. If puppies go through a lot of negative experiences early in life (such as a bad shelter experience, mishandling, or mistreatment), these negative experiences could cause a new pet owner to be wary when bringing this puppy home around a small child. This doesn’t mean you should exclude getting a dog from a shelter, but you may want to possibly consider a more adult dog from a shelter. By getting an adult shelter dog you will be able to get a better idea as to what breed the dog is and this will help you better determine his natural behaviors.
Another factor is activity level. You can not determine the dog’s activity level at the shelter. He may be stressed, and / or depressed, which makes him look less active. It is hard to assess the temperament level of a dog until he has been out of the shelter environment for at least several weeks to several months.
Dog Temperament & Age Considerations
A great idea is to get an even tempered adult dog for your young child. Children can stress dogs out by the way they treat them (pulling on fur, ears, tail, paws, etc). Parents need to supervise their children with their dogs, and recognize that the child’s behavior can affect the dog’s temperament and future behaviors. Even if the dog does not react immediately to something a child does, the dog may be masking his feelings / behavior.
Adult Dogs - Sometimes A Better Choice
Many families automatically want to adopt as young of a puppy as they can find. However, you can prevent many problems from happening by adopting an adult dog with a stable temperament that is known for being excellent around children. It also helps if the dog is of a size to where the child could not hurt him by playing rough. If you can, you want to meet the previous family the dog came from and find out their history. If you find that the dog is good with children, the dog may have been given away for other reasons (i.e. a lack of training), in which a dog trainer can come in handy.
If you do decide to get a young puppy, parents need to know that a puppy is very high-maintenance. They require a lot time, care, training and patience. Puppy classes are great to take puppies to for socializing, basic obedience, and temperament testing. This will give the dog the best chance of growing into a child-safe adult dog.
Is Your Child Ready For A Dog?
You need to make sure your child is old enough to be able to handle a dog. An older child has a better understanding of how to treat a dog. Usually the best age is school age, but in the meantime, younger children can be around great dogs with a wonderful temperament, to get them prepared for one of their own.
Choosing to add a new canine member to the family is a huge decision. Getting a dog at the right time can be a great asset to your family. Wonderful memories are acquired from children and dogs, and together they build an everlasting friendship!