Copyright 2006 Emma Snow
The big day has finally arrived, a new member of the family will be joining your ranks. When you bring the little one home, you want to know you have made the right decision, are they going to fit in well with the other family members, will they be kind to everyone, will they be too rambunctious or too big? Of course by little one I am referring to a new dog in the family. These are questions that often come to mind when bringing home a new pet. While there are no guarantees that whatever dog you choose will connect instantly with your family and most important your children, considering a few different things will better ensure a proper match.
The first item to consider is the size of the dog you want to bring home. Canines vary in size from miniature two pound Chihuahua’s up to three hundred pound English Mastiffs. While it seems like a very small dog might be best for very small children, think again. If the dog is too small it has a greater likelihood of being stepped on or hurt even by small children who are ten times their size. Huge dogs are not taboo when it comes to children, they can work well, but now the child’s size gives them the disadvantage. Other things to think about are where you live will the dog have enough room to stay active? Large dogs in a small apartment or tiny dogs on a huge plot of land may not pose problems, but do you want to take the risk?
Another item to think about when choosing a family dog is personality. While mean dogs are generally that way because of training, there are breeds that are more likely to be bad with children. Of the 279 deaths caused by dogs between 1979 and 1994, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and German Shepards were the most commonly reported dog breed involved. Other dogs that have a tendency to be biters are Dobermans and Dalmatians. Along with thinking about how vicious a dog is, dog activity is another thing to consider. Even if a certain breed is known to be less vicious, it may be too rambunctious for small children. There are many things about a dogs personality that lend themselves to being good with children, one that is docile, loving, patient, and willing to be tugged at. Finding a dog that has these characteristics is the key.
There are other things that will make having a dog and children easier as well. Children take a lot of your time, having your daily walks with your dog may not be as easy as it once was, especially in cold climates where it is difficult to take children out at the same time. Dogs that require a lot of exercise such as larger terriers, spaniels and most dogs over 50 pounds may not be able to have the attention required to keep them healthy and active. Other considerations in choosing a dog is how easy it is to clean up after, does it shed a lot, or does it require regular grooming? While they may seem small considerations now, constantly having to vacuum or pull dog hairs off you baby or child will eventually become very tedious.
The last item to think about when it comes to dogs and children is timing. What do I mean by this? Many dogs do much better when they are raised at the same time as the children. It is more difficult for an older dog to adjust to infants or small children than one who has grown up with them. When a dog is accustomed to children from the time they are puppies, it can tolerate the hair pulling, hitting and tugging with more patience. It might even be more willing to be dressed up for a tea party or two.
There are no guarantees when it comes to choosing a new dog for your family, but when certain things are researched first, it can increase the likelihood of a good match. A family dog will be a member of your clan for years to come, hopefully some of the information here can help them fit in and become a loving part of any family.