Mom, Please Can We Get a Puppy?

Selecting  the best dog for your children is a very important decision that can have far reaching implications for your family.  You need to make sure that the dog you choose is going to be the best match possible for your family’s lifestyle, temperament, and budget.  Here are some things to consider when choosing the the right dog for your child/ren.

There are many kids who will nag for a puppy of their own but in fact very few kids make good dog owners. Most kids lose interest pretty quickly once the cute puppy stage passes and once they discover what goes with owning a dog: picking up poo, house training, exercising, feeding, socialising and disciplining. The child who would make a good dog owner/handler is usually a child who prefers animals to people, is often quite serious and is happy with their own company.

If your child is one of those special children, you still  need  to choose the right puppy for your child. Good breeds for children to train and bond with are the Maltese, Miniature Schnauzer, Whippet and Toy or Miniature Poodle. All these breeds are small enough for kids to handle physically, are fun to train  and are not snappy. Avoid any breed too large or strong for the child to manage  (e.g. German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Dobermann, Ridgeback, Boxer, Great Dane, Boerboel, Husky, Labrador, Golden Retriever).  Also avoid any breed that can be feisty or temperamental with other dogs (e.g. the terriers – Staffy, Jack Russel, Pit Bull, Scotty and Bulldogs) and those that can be nippy or snappy (e.g. Dachshund, Border Collie, Spaniel, Miniature Pinscher and Corgi). Make sure the parents of the puppy you are considering are calm, friendly and socialised with children. Ensure the puppy stays with the litter until it is 8 weeks old. Puppies removed from the litter earlier often have problems with bite inhibition (biting too hard) and other behavioural issues. It is also advisable to choose a female.

 A good compromise you can come to for your family, is to choose a puppy for the family rather than for one specific child.  Some breeds make excellent family dogs if an adult is prepared to be the major care-giver. The children can be involved with grooming, training and feeding while an adult disciplines, socialises and exercises the puppy.  Breeds that are known to be gentle (non- aggressive and not too boisterous) with children include Beagle, Basset,  Labrador, Golden Retriever and Caveliar King Charles Spaniel. Once again it is essential that any puppy chosen for a family with children must be bred from calm, friendly parents who are socialised with  children. It is essential that the puppy has no sign of nervousness and stays with the litter until 8 weeks of age.

Don’t fall into the trap of getting more than one puppy at at time. If you have two children in the family who you feel would benefit from having a relationship with a dog, get one puppy at a time, no closer than 6 months apart and preferably of different breeds and sexes. The last thing you want to have in your home is two dogs who fight – puppies raised together, particularly if they are related are very likely to fight. Children find this most distressing.

 To further ensure that the puppy turns into a reliable family dog, remember that puppies raised in hectic, busy, noisy households grow up to be hectic, busy and noisy. Consider carefully if your environment is the right one for raising a puppy correctly. Puppies tend to mirror their environment to a large extent.

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