How to Choose a Dog for Your Family
Choosing the right dog can be an involved process, with many different aspects to consider. With everything from dog safety for kids to maintaining a safe and secure environment, choosing a family dog requires thought and preparation. Here are some things to remember when you are looking for your next dog.
Importantly, a dog must be chosen based on its individual temperament, personality, behaviour and needs. There is a lot of misguided and inaccurate information out there about certain breeds being better with kids, but this is not true. Dog behaviour is not dictated by a dog’s breed but by a complex interaction of genetics, experience and environment.
It can be challenging and is generally not recommended to get puppies for kids, especially children under the age of seven. Children under seven cannot be expected to learn how to read or respond to dogs and puppies and so avoidance and management is key. Puppies are often excitable, boisterous and will mouth and bite as part of their play. Their super sharp teeth and tendency to chase and jump can be confronting and stressful for some young children.
You also need to consider your home environment and the individual needs, goals, expectations and limitations of your family.
You cannot decide if a dog is right for your family purely based on size. Some of the best family dogs are large, but there are many popular small dogs for kids and medium-sized dogs for families. When thinking about the best dogs for small children, it is best to seek dogs with calm, robust, resilient social temperaments, regardless of their size. Dogs who are fearful, anxious or particularly hyperactive or impulsive should be avoided. This ensures that they will be able to interact calmly and confidently with every member of your family, making them the best dogs for kids.
Tiny and miniature dogs should be avoided when it comes to families with young children because they can easily be accidentally harmed when dropped, trodden on, or fallen on which is very traumatic for the dogs and children involved.
How to Train Your Dog to Be Kid-Friendly
Whichever dog you decide is the best dog for kids, it is necessary to employ training and management strategies to ensure that your family pet is as child-friendly as possible. Teaching your pet the skills that they will need to interact safely with younger family members will go a long way to having kid-friendly dogs into your life. Dogs can often get very over-stimulated, exhausted and fatigued around children who can be noisy and active. This could lead to them getting grumpy and even aggressive.
Dogs should be provided with places of respite to retreat to when needing space or rest. Things such as kennels or crates can be used. Baby-gates are another good way of ensuring dogs and kids can be separated as needed.
Dogs and puppies should have well supervised, carefully moderated and positive experiences around children. Children need to be taught how to gently interact with and respectfully handle dogs. Having your kids give treats to the dog is a great way to set up a positive association.
Dogs should be taught (with positive reinforcement training) not to bite or mouth children and to engage in calm interactions such as sitting or keeping paws on the floor instead of jumping up.
Puppy socialisation involves helping your dog get used to the world around them, while following directions from their owners and family members. The best way to socialise a puppy depends on your situation at home and what works best for your family. Puppies can be fearful of new experiences, so it is important to approach things with sensitivity. Use positive reinforcement to help them understand the differences between their actions and consequences and to help create a bond with other people and animals around them. Your home may also have clear distinctions between night and daytime, which can help you find the best time to socialise a puppy depending on their needs and temperament.
Teach Dog Handling
It is important to train your dog as soon as possible to help them meet their basic needs and feel comfortable and safe in the home, making them the best dogs for kids. While it can seem like an overwhelming process, there is a range of information available, as well as multiple strategies to help you on your way through this project. Whether you are looking to start a dog obedience program, play training games or learn more about positive reinforcement to support your puppy, there are several things that you can try to find the best approach for you and your dog. Teaching dog handling is a guaranteed way to help ensure that your pets are the best dogs for kids, able to interact safely with children, keeping them and your family happy and healthy in the home.
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