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Is a Dog Suitable For a Child?

Is a Dog Suitable For a Child? “Mom, Dad – I want a dog!” – more than one parent has heard this sentence. As your child comes back to the topic more and more, you start to wonder. Maybe it is worth expanding the group of household members with a four-legged friend? However, more questions and doubts keep popping up in your head.

And, ideally, they appear because there is something to think about! A dog is not a toy that can be packed in a box in the garage when it ceases to arouse the interest of our child. It is a living creature with its character, emotions, and needs. We accept responsibility for its fate and well-being by inviting a pet home. It is such a profound responsibility that – there is nothing to cheat here – it must rest with an adult. Certainly, inviting a dog to the family will add to the parents’ daily activities first of all, so if you (adults) do not feel up to this challenge, you should not just be tempted to satisfy your offspring’s whim.

On the other hand, you’ve probably heard about the many benefits for children’s development of being raised with a canine friend. As a mother of several children and a guardian of several dogs, I will share the most important ones according to my experience. First of all, nothing will encourage young people to be physically active and move outdoors as well as the opportunity to spend time with a four-legged friend. This is an incredible advantage in the era of ubiquitous computers and smartphones! In addition, dogs that can thank you for everyday care and attention teach your child to be empathetic, responsible, and open to the needs of others.

Finally – a deep relationship with a pet is constant emotional valuable support at various stages of a child’s life, a remedy for loneliness, school nerves, problems with self-acceptance, etc. Given so many advantages, it is worth looking at the possibility of inviting the dog to the family. However, it is essential to remember that both parties must feel comfortable with each other for the dog-child relationship to be beneficial. Building such a relationship requires taking care of the dog’s well-being from the very first day in his new home. It will be of great importance here whether your child understands (adequately to age) what is associated with having a canine friend. How can you check this before your dog arrives at home?

Is your baby ready for a dog?

Perhaps you have come across the idea that from a child who drills a hole in his parents’ stomach against a dog, for some time, it is necessary to take care of an “invisible dog.” The child would have to place empty bowls in the kitchen at fixed times or get up in the morning and go for a walk with only a leash. With its consequence, it can “earn” a dog. While such a plan may seem reasonable, it makes little sense from my point of view.

Is a Dog Suitable For a Child
Is a Dog Suitable For a Child

I do not think it is possible to directly translate a child’s determination to win the coveted prize into the enthusiasm with which it will take care of a natural dog for several years of its life. More importantly, this idea carries the dangerous assumption that feeding and taking a dog for a walk are loops for the underage. I am very warning against such thinking!

These situations are associated with fulfilling the animal’s essential needs, and thus – with strong emotions. It is easy to make a mistake here, which will adversely affect the other relationship with the dog and may lead to potentially dangerous situations or behavioral problems. That is why I encourage the process of feeding and walking the dog always to take place under the supervision of parents, even if the children will help in these duties. The actual readiness to share a house with a dog companion can be checked “dry” in a different way. You may find it helpful to answer three simple questions:

  • How is your child coping with keeping things organized?

Do you think it’s unrelated? The moment your dog comes to your house, you will notice this relationship! Help with cleaning means more time for the parent to look after the dog. However, first of all, it reduces the risk of conflict and dangerous situations on the dog-child line, e.g., crying due to a bitten cuddly bear, visiting the vet after the dog eats dough, or nerves related to the disappearance of pizza left on the floor. If you have a messy little person at home, try to teach him the habit of cleaning up after playing and eating. A house where things have their place is a friendlier environment for dogs.

  • Is your child sensitive to changes?

Undoubtedly, they will be forced by the presence of the quadruped. Your order of the day may change, the arrangement of furniture, zones in the house so far intended for the carefree play of a child, holiday destinations (you can’t go everywhere with your dog), or the way you welcome guests at home. Both more minor and older children (adolescents) can be susceptible to sudden turbulences, especially if they have to cope with other changes in their lives at the same time. Isn’t such a period now for your little one? Before bringing your dog home, talk to your child about the changes this may involve. You can also test certain elements, such as joint walks to the park at different times of the day or preparing a dog’s corner of peace at home, without the presence of a living quadruped, gradually getting your child used to new habits.

  • What does your child know about dog communication?

In other words, can it understand what the dog is saying to it, and does it know how the dog can perceive different human behaviors (gestures, sounds, expressions)? This is a crucial issue when it comes to family safety. Knowledge is much more important than what type of bowl or lair to choose for the new ward. Seemingly innocent behavior of a child, such as an attempt to hug a dog, maybe interpreted by an animal as a threat or an attack against which one tries to defend himself with aggression.

Wagging the tail does not always mean being in a good mood, and jumping around is the desire to have fun. Invite your child to watch webinars together about dog communication, and then check the new knowledge in practice. Talk about what you think the dogs being managed in a nearby park communicate. As long as you do not take care of your fur, it is much easier to do it, and the habits acquired during such sessions will make it easier for all family members to build a relationship with your dog.

Since we are talking about watching different dogs … If you feel that you and your child are ready for the challenge of adopting a canine friend, you are probably wondering which dog to choose?

Are Dogs Good for Kids
Are Dogs Good for Kids

What’s the best breed of dog for a baby?

Which breed of dog for a child Is the best? Will it work better for a dog or a female dog for a child? Should I decide to buy a puppy from the kennel, or maybe you can also find dogs for the child in the shelter? Well… let’s start by asking the above questions slightly differently. Something like “good dog for a child” does not exist. Many dogs have suffered because their breed was presented as the gentlest dogs for children. There may be a good family for a dog, though! So think together – what kind of dog will we be a good family for?

Good, that is, one that respects the dog’s needs, and these will differ slightly depending on the type, age, sex, and origin of the animal. Adults are also different, and children are also different. Some families love cycling or long trips to the forest; others prefer watching movies under one blanket. It is, therefore, wise to look for a dog whose character will match the unique personality of your entire family. Together, read the reliable descriptions of dog breeds, talk to the keepers, breeders, or – if you prefer – shelter employees. Do not choose a dog “by appearance,” but based on whether your lifestyle will be conducive to meeting the needs of a particular animal. Also, do not forget to include the children’s views in these considerations.

So what if the parents bet on a happy Labrador, if the daughter, scared by the dog’s size, will be nervous from the beginning? Maybe mom loves miniature Maltese dogs, but it can be difficult for an adolescent, athletic son to develop delicate behaviors with this tiny dog. No guide will tell you what type of dog will feel good in your home.

Should I buy a dog for my child? You have to think carefully about it!

The decision to buy or adopt a dog, even if initiated by a child, should be considered and accepted by the whole family. If both parents and children are ready for a dog at home, it may be the best decision in your life, which I sincerely wish you. Remember, however, that inviting your pet to the family is just the beginning of the path to building a successful relationship between your dog and your child. Good preparation will help you and your little one take their first steps more confidently.

A new study shows what many of us already believe: Dogs are good for kids. 

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