Nancy Kerns: Hi! I am Nancy Kerns, Editor of The Whole Dog Journal. Today, I am going to discuss how to select a dog for a family with kids.
If you are choosing a dog to fit into a family with kids, plan on taking a lot of time and consideration before you bring any perspective candidate home. Steal yourself, once your family has made the decision to get a dog, you maybe inundated with please for this or that unsuitable individual.
Let your kids know that their feedback is important to you, but that you will be making the final decision. And then don't waver when they insist that they have bonded deeply with a dog who doesn't meet your list of selection criteria.
Above all, a dog who is going to live with children should love kids. This makes perfect sense now, but when you remember this point when you find what seems to be an otherwise perfect dog at the shelter, and the dog seems a little shy or seems to prefer you to your kids.
If the dog is meant to be a companion to the kids or if you have a child who absolutely loves dogs and is drawn to them at every turn, you are setting your family up for disaster if you bring home a dog who avoids your kids or who passes them by in order to greet you.
For the best chance of success, what you really want is a dog who passes by you in order to happily enthusiastically greet your kids. Children's voices should make this dog sit up in interest, and she should be not just tolerant, but she should seem to really enjoy being padded and hugged and belly-rubbed by your kids.
Look for a dog whose face softens when she sees a kid, with relaxed ears, soft or smiley lips, and soft squinty eyes. If she wants to lick your child, that's great! But, if her gaze is on everything but the kids or if she shares at children with a hard or intent look, don't consider her for another second.
Kids are especially vulnerable to being bitten by dogs. Young children are more commonly bitten than any other age group. Young children are also bitten more seriously than other people, and the bites often occur in the face.
Most dogs give a lot of warning signals before they bite. But children, especially small children, are less likely to notice and take heed of these signals. It's just not fair or safe to bring home a dog who is uncomfortable with kids. It's far less likely to happen with a dog who shows every sign of being willing and eager to be subjected to your child's attention, and even a bit of accidental abuse.
This guideline should be followed even if you are adopting a puppy. Look for a confident, friendly pup who is drawn to your kids like a magnet, and yet is gentle and accepting when your child pushes her away.
Avoid both a very shy pup or one who seems intent on knocking your child to the ground or who makes your toddler cry with his overenthusiastic licking or puppy biting. If the puppy traumatizes your child, it will be much harder for them to bond.
By following these tips, you will be sure to find the perfect family dog.