If only everyone researched dog behavior before introducing them into a family full of children! Perhaps then, we wouldn’t hear so many horror stories about dogs attacking kids. In a significant number of these stories, we often find that the dog really isn’t at fault. The dog might have been provoked (as innocent as that provocation may have been), or perhaps the dog was abused by older family members who should have known better. In either case, chances are that the dog wasn’t an appropriate family choice in the first place! Here’s a primer on problems you should anticipate when adopting a dog into a household with children. At the end, you’ll find a brief list of the best dogs for kids.
When dogs attack, they react to something that they’ve interpreted as a threat. As friendly as some dogs can be, we have to remember that they’re animals – animals that can have a wild streak deep down in its genetic make-up somewhere, or right below the surface. That’s why children must learn proper behavior around dogs. Under no circumstances, should a child poke, hit, slap, choke, attempt to ride, or pull a dog. Nor should a child play with a dog’s food and water bowl or toys. These kinds of behaviors are threatening to a dog because they challenge its ability to defend itself, its territory, or its property.
Toddlers probably present the biggest threat because dogs cannot interpret toddler behavior the way that we can. As an example, consider the toddler’s “kiss.” A toddler, not yet knowing how to kiss with puckered lips, will kiss with a wide mouth open approach. To a dog, a kiss from a toddler looks like an attempt to take a big bite! Once instincts kick in (usually a matter of few milliseconds) the dog will defend itself – and unfortunately, attack the toddler.
You’re going to have to supervise the interaction between your dog and your children for a while. That is until you’re confident that your children understand and respect your dog’s natural tendencies. If you’re unable to supervise this interaction, put the dog in the backyard, in a pen, behind a gate or in a crate. Wherever it is that you place the dog, NEVER leave it and a small toddler alone in the same area.
Matchmaking Is A Must
We’ll introduce some of the best dogs for kids in a few paragraphs. Right now, we want you to focus on whether your children are capable of forming an appropriate dog-owner relationship. Let’s be honest — some children (and some adults) make terrible pet owners. They may have anger issues or an inability to control impulsive behavior. They may refuse to respect or acknowledge the potential dangers of provoking a dog and continue to treat it as a plaything or object of abuse. The combination can be so unsafe in fact, some breeders won’t sell their pups to a household with children at all!
The best matches include children who are mature enough to properly love, play, and care for a dog; children whose activity level matches that of the family pet; and children who at least make the attempt to learn as much about natural dog behavior that they can. To help, introduce your children to books about dogs at the library first. Or let them take care of a neighbor’s dog before bringing home one of your own.
Best Dogs for Kids – A Few Examples
Without further delay, let us introduce five great common companions for disciplined, mature, and loving children:
- Golden Retrievers
While this list certainly doesn’t exhaust the possibilities, it represents some of the friendliest canines of the entire bunch. A more extensive list is available in this article about best dogs for children.