Children will beg for a puppy from their parents. They make all sorts of promises. "I'll feed him! I'll walk him. I promise." Soon, the novelty wears off and the responsibility of the new family member falls onto the adults in the home.
When listening to your children beg for a new puppy, do not give in unless the adults in the home are ready to take on the ultimate responsibility for that puppy. Even a responsible child will need to be reminded to feed the dog, walk the dog and ensure that the dog becomes a welcome member of the family.
Dogs need training and children have no idea how to do it, nor should they be expected to possess such knowledge and skill. Dogs need to be socialized; a young child is not capable of taking a puppy numerous places to accomplish proper socialization. Many adults do not understand what this means, let alone a child.
Very young children often act inappropriately around a new puppy. When the puppy jumps on them they run away from the puppy screaming, which elicits a play response in the puppy. They grab, pinch and pick up the puppy, which may be frightening or painful, causing the puppy to fear the child and possibly all children.
Dogs and children needs constant supervision; are the adults in the family ready for this?
They seem to go together – children and dogs. Many adults have great childhood memories attached to the family dog. Now think harder, did you actually take sole responsibility of your memorable dogs? No doubt you played with your dog, probably fed him – with reminders from an adult. Who housetrained the dog, trained the dog, or walked the dog? Think back and you are likely to remember you had help from an adult. Ultimately, these responsibilities fall on the adults in the home, not the children.
Once the adult agrees to accept the majority of the responsibility, the next decision is what type of dog fits best into your family. The current trend for dogs is small toy breeds. This type of dog is not suitable for young children. While they are easy to carry, they are also easily injured from being dropped or stepped on. The toy breeds can easily break a leg or worse when dropped and children have a higher risk of dropping small dogs.
Young children need a sturdy dog, one that can withstand inappropriate handling. No dog should be expected to take all that a child can give. Many children like to hug, sit on or roughhouse with a dog. Young children need to be taught how to act appropriately with the new family member. They must be supervised.
Dogs and kids can be a great combination. Nevertheless, they will need adult help and adult supervision. Never expect your children to take on all the responsibility of a dog and never leave young children alone with a dog. While the dog may tolerate your child's actions, they might not enjoy it. All dogs have their breaking point and if reached there can be devastating consequences.
Tip of the week: When choosing a dog, research the breed's energy level, sociability and how they get along with children. Many books, websites and local trainers may be able to help you in choosing a dog for you and your family
Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington, Columbia City and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the trainers are all graduates of Purdue University's DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.