Choosing a dog for your child need not be a daunting task. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting a canine companion for your young family member.
- What is the purpose of the dog? Are you looking for a small cuddly dog to snuggle on the couch, or do you want a running partner for an active child? Lhasa Apso’s and similar small fluffy dogs are loved by many children, and they are small enough for them to pick up.
- How old is your child, and how responsible are they? You would not choose a Siberian Husky for a 5 year old child. They are active and require a certain amount of rigorous grooming to keep their coat looking good and their skin healthy. A 14 year old youngster is quite capable of grooming and training a Border Collie or similar breed but you wouldn’t get them an Afghan whose coat needs daily brushing.
- What is your child’s lifestyle like? If they spend a lot of their time at after-school activities, they won’t have time for a high maintenance breed. Perhaps a whippet, pug or similar quiet short coated breed would be a good choice for them. You can also buy car seat carriers for your dog so it will be easy for your child to carry your pet anywhere. With this, your child will certainly appreciate the responsibility and the happiness of owning a dog.
- In many cases, the buck stops with the parent, and they end up taking a lot of the responsibility for caring for the dog. How much effort do you want to put into grooming and training your child’s dog? This will influence whether you choose a highly intelligent breed such as the australian cattle dog, that needs lots of mental stimulation, or a more laid back breed. Similarly, if you are busy enough combing your children’s hair, the last thing you want to be doing is combing your dog’s hair too!
- Do you have time to toilet train a dog? Again, if your family includes toddlers who are learning to work their way out of diapers, it’s just too hard to have to potty train a dog too! Think about adopting an older dog that has already been through the difficult and time consuming puppy period.
When you have narrowed down the breed and age of dog that is most suitable for your child, it’s time to look at individual temperaments. Some natural difference in temperament starts to be seen at about 10 weeks. The usual advice given is to choose the most outgoing playful puppy. If the truth be known, even the most reclusive puppy in the litter can become a great child’s pet if you put the time into socializing and training your four legged family member.
More important than the individual puppy are the general characteristics the breed offers in the way of inherent temperament. Know what your breed was bred for and you’ll be able to work out if your dog will fit with your family lifestyle.
Many dogs are given up to shelters and rescue organizations each year because they’re just not the right dog for their family. If you do your homework before you choose a dog, you’ll avoid this heartache, and your child will have a new best friend.