Dogs and children are a natural combination. A dog can be a child’s best friend growing up and it has been shown in studies that children with pets have better social skills and more self-confidence. However, for the sake of all involved it is important to choose the right dog for your family. Everyone in the family should want a dog and although the child may be responsible for some aspects of care, everyone should do their part and it is up to the adults to ensure that the dog is well cared for and properly treated.
It is also important to remember that dogs have limited communication skills and ways of indicating that they are uncomfortable with a situation and feeling threatened. Children are not generally good at reading a dog’s body language and understanding these ways of communicating. This means that regardless of how good natured a dog is, the dog and child should never be left alone unsupervised. It only takes a few seconds for something to go wrong. When that happens it is the dog and the child that pay the price.
Many breeds, including mixed breeds, can make fabulous pets for children. When making a decision, it is important to take into account your child’s age as well as your lifestyle, and the time you have to devote to exercising and grooming your new pet. Small dogs can be more delicate, especially as puppies, and are not usually good choices for households with small children. The following breeds can all make great choices. Regardless of what breed you choose, always check the breeder out carefully. Ask for proof of health clearances on the parents for common diseases like hip dysplasia, cardiac problems, and eye issues.
There’s a reason that the Labrador has been labelled the best family pet time and time again. The have a moderate activity level that works well with most families and tend to be patient and gentle dogs. They are game for whatever activity the kids want to pursue, including curling up on the couch. They do shed and are prone to a number of health issues, so it is important to get a well-bred dog.
Like the Labrador, this is a popular choice. The longer hair is even more noticeable than the Labrador’s when they shed. Originally bred to be a gentleman’s hunting companion, the Golden has a relaxed outlook on life and goes with the flow in a fashion that works well with children.
For those who want a small dog or need to choose something with less energy and space needs due to lifestyle, the Pug can be an ideal choice. His short hair does shed but he is much sturdier than most small breeds of dog. Pugs love to play and cuddle and are little clowns that love to make their owners laugh.
A little more sedate than some of the other pointing breeds, he is generally healthier than Labrador and Golden Retrievers. His short coat does shed but it is not as noticeable as the longer hair of the retrievers. Pointers are patient and love to play games for hours on end, making them a great choice for families with more space and a higher activity level.
One of the original nanny dogs that watches over children with devotion and patience, the Newfoundland is an excellent choice for families that want a very large dog. The coat does require regular brushing and they do drool.
Most dogs can make an excellent family choice with supervision and training, including a mixed breed from the local shelter. Dogs and children really are an excellent combination. Take the time to do your research and find the right pet for your family.