Mixing children and dogs must be done with some forethought. Most dogs are quite safe around children and what kid doesn’t want a dog as a pet?
Yet, it’s strange how many tales we hear of dogs attacking children and yet, as a group, parents still choose to bring dogs into their families with little instruction or research.
The truth is, most families with a dog will never deal with the terrible situations we hear about on the news. Dogs love people. Most dogs love children. Children and adults love dogs and it is very doubtful that after thousands of years the connection between canine and humankind will be broken.
What does need to be considered is how to make the best possible environment for your children and dog so that you don’t need to worry about unexpected tragedy.
There are many experts with various views, but several points can be generally agreed upon when bringing a dog into a household with children.
First, be sure your very young children (generally pre-school age, under six) are NEVER left unattended with a dog. It is not that your dog will suddenly choose to attack, it is that a dog – like a small child itself – will not always choose the best response when it is unintentionally harmed or threatened in play. You would not leave small children unattended in play, and so, you should not consider your dog to be more mature, but rather equal, to your child in tolerance and behavior.
Second, discourage roughhousing with the dog. Larger dogs can handle more play, such as Newfoundlanders and Old English Sheepdogs, without becoming agitated. Other large breeds may become agitated in play and accidently harm your child. Large breeds may even knock over small children unintentionally. Obviously smaller breeds could feel endangered with rough play and feel compelled to protect themselves from harm. In all cases, roughhousing is discouraged with all breeds.
Third, have a well trained dog when you choose to have a dog as a family pet. While some trainers may feel that the owner is adequately qualified to take on this task, you may wish to consider having your dog professionally trained if possible.
Aggression can happen with even the most loving owners when incorrect training, or improper handling of the dog is not addressed early on. Choosing a fully-trained dog will give you the peace of mind you are looking for when selecting a pet for your children.
There are many other points that are important to consider when buying a dog for your family. By taking the time to understand and learn about dogs before bringing one home, you are more likely to find the life-long friend your children deserve!