Dogs and Children
If you’re reading this, you probably already own a dog or perhaps are thinking of adopting one. If you have children at home or are expecting one in the future, you need to first consider the effect your child or children will have on a new pup coming into the family unit.
Certain dog breeds are not often the best breeds to have around young children, so you need to do your homework before you venture out to purchase or adopt a new pup for the family. Small breeds such as Chihuahuas, Pekingese and Shih Tzus are very cute and can become good family pets with the proper training. However, because of their small size they will often snap, snarl or bite if they feel threatened or are exposed to a lot of crying, screaming or quick movements of children darting around.
Likkewise, large breed dogs such as Siberian Huskies, Alasken Malamutes, Bullmastiffs and Rottweillers may not be a good fit for a family or around young children. Many of these breeds can be very well mannered and friendly but, because of their size, they can easily topple over an excited toddler without realizing they are causing harm. Also some of these breeds are instinctively protective of their “family unit” and can view random running and screaming as signs of danger and will react accordingly.
You also need to consider the fact that many children, as well as adults, have or may develop allergies to dogs and, if you are a “clean freak”, you may find it difficult to cope with fur flying around your home. In this case we need to consider looking at breeds that are considered “Hypoallergenic”. While no dog will be 100% safe with anyone with very severe allergies, certain breeds are better tolerated than others. Generally, dogs with long hair, or ones that are prone to drooling, are certainly not good choices. You would be wise to look at breeds such as Poodles, Bichon Frise, Maltese, Chinese Crested or Portuguese Water Dogs. While these breeds don’t shed, they will need regular grooming.
If you already own a pet or are looking to get one, you must be able to teach your children how to interact with dogs safely. As with any pet, they are ultimately animals and children need to realize that any animal may only tolerate so much running, screaming, chasing and pulling hair or poking before they react.
We need to teach chiildren the proper way to aproach and interact with all dogs, your own and others they may encounter outside of the family home. When meeting a dog on the street or in a park, a child should always ask permission to approach and pet a dog. If they are allowed to interact with the dog, they need to approach slowly, not staring direcly at the dog, and speaking in a soft tone, which will promote a positie experience for both the dog and the child.
Always encourage your child to approach a dog from the side and allow the dog to smell them first. They should not immediately reach out at a dog as this can cause the dog to feel threatened. Ask them to ignore the dog and make eye contact and speak with the owner first. Then, they can make a fist and allow the dog to sniff their hand. They can then open their hand and scratch under the dog’s chin and on their chest. Children should also be taught to respect a dog’s space, especially if the pup is eating or sleeping.
You also need to be aware of a dog’s body language and children need to be educated with signs of fear or stress in dogs, such as baring their teeth, tucking in their tails or showing the whites of their eyes. If any of these signs are apparent, back up and give the dog space.
You should also teach your chilldren not to run and scream around dogs, but to remain calm and quiet. A lot of excitement or chaos can often trigger aggressive reactions in dogs.
A positive relationship between dogs and children will lead to a stronger bond and minimize the risk of any accidents or injuries and will create a loving and secure environment for all involved.