Are Children and Dogs A Good Combination?
Dogs and children can be a wonderful combination. They really can be best mates, and both benefit from the relationship.
But there are certain guidelines that parents who are pet owners must adhere to. Why? Because as loyal as dogs can be, they are still dogs, with the limited capacity for complex thought that goes with that.
Young children must never be left alone with a dog. The type of play which excites a dog needs to be discouraged. And dogs need to be trained to understand their place in the pecking order of your family.
If you live by these guidelines, your child can have an extremely rewarding relationship with your dog.
Some people may think that it an anomaly that we often hear stories of dogs attacking children and yet, parents still choose to bring dogs into their families with little thought of the possible adverse consequences.
The vast majority of families with a dog will thankfully never have to deal with any of the terrible situations we hear about on the news. Dogs love people. Most dogs love children. Children generally love dogs as much as their parents do, and it is very doubtful that after thousands of years the connection between canine and humankind will be broken.
So the question is how to make the best possible environment for your children and your dog so that you won’t need to worry unduly about unexpected tragedy.
Experts generally agree upon at least three key areas which must be borne in mind when bringing a dog into a household with children.
First, be sure that very young children, as well as older children who may display immature, or impulsive, behaviors, are NEVER left unattended with a dog. Your dog is unlikely to suddenly choose to attack, but a dog – like a small child itself – will not always choose the best response when it is unintentionally teased, harmed or threatened in play. You wouldn’t leave small children unattended in play for more than a few seconds or minutes (depending upon their age). So if your child and your dog are together, you should be even more vigilant, as the potential for accidents is at least doubled.
Secondly, you should discourage roughhousing with the dog. Larger dogs can generally handle more play, without becoming agitated. But this is not a universal comment. Some large breeds may become agitated, or excited, in play and accidently harm your child. Large breeds may easily knock over small children unintentionally. Obviously smaller breeds could feel endangered with rough play and feel compelled to protect themselves from harm. Toughhousing is therefore to be discouraged with all breeds.
Thirdly, ensure that your family dog is moderately well trained. 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 may give you greater peace of mind you are looking for when selecting a pet for your children. Or if you train the dog yourself, you need to ensure that the dog understands that YOU are the top dog, AND that the dog is NOT above your children in the pecking order.
There are many other issues that are important to consider when buying a dog for your family. But taking the time to understand and learn about dogs before bringing one home, is definitely more conducive to you finding the life-long friend your children deserve!