Kid friendly dogs – and dogs to avoid with smaller children

By  |  0 Comments

When you decide to adopt a dog and have children in your family remember that the age of the children is an important factor. Certain breeds are believed to mix better with children than others but keep in mind that the personality of the dog, and not necessarily the breed is the most important factor. So let’s take a closer look at some kid friendly dogs – and dogs to avoid with smaller children.

The dog’s personality should match your child’s personality. For a quiet, calm child choose a rather quiet dog and not necessarily a Terrier that needs lots of playtime and exercise. Listen to the shelter staff if you go for adoption or veterinarian or the breeder’s advice when discussing a specific animal. Inform them, or better bring your child/children with you so a professional can evaluate the situation.

Size: small size does not mean that the dog will be friendly to your child. Smaller dogs are easier intimidated than larger animals, they can get hurt easier and their only weapon of defense is their teeth. Sometimes larger dogs are gentler than toy dogs.

Training: Every dog should be trained. For some great advice, see this post on how to train a Labrador. If there are children in the household, proper training is absolutely required. If you don’t have the time/patience/knowledge, have your animal trained by a professional.

Never leave a dog alone with a baby or a toddler. Monitor the interaction between your children and your dog carefully. Sometimes animals get too excited when playing with children. Children are often unaware of their strength and can hurt the animal. Stepping on the animal’s paws, tumble over it, etc. can make the most gentle animal turn angry and probably bite.

Puppies are sweet and adorable but please do consider that a sweet puppy might not turn into the dog you wish for. Try to choose an adult dog, even if you only want to support adoption, where you can already watch the kind of personality the animal has.

The following breeds are normally recommended for a household with children. Do keep in mind though that dogs have personalities, and some need more exercise than others. Some might be time-consuming due to special grooming needs, etc. Again, before you decide, talk to a professional. And please, adopt, don’t buy from pet shops!

Golden Retriever, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, West Highland Terrier, Irish Setter, Schnauzer, Labrador Retriever, Poodle, Dachshund, Bichon Frise, Airedale, Basset, Beagle, Shih Tzu, Boxer, Cairn Terrier, Collie, Boston Terrier, Newfoundland, Pomeranian, Pug, Whippet.

Not recommended with small children:

Affenpinscher, Chihuahua, Pekingese, Basenji, Dalmatian, Rottweiler, German and Australian Shepherds, Dobermans, Jack Russel Terriers, Lhasa Apso, Schnauzer, Afghan, Akita, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Chow Chow, Borzoi, Puli, ShiTzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Barsoi, Basenji, Beagle, Bloodhound, Dachshund, Siberian Husky, Afghan, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Setters, Samoyed, Weimaraner, Greyhound, Saluki, Irish Wolfhound, Pitbulls.

Is your dog stressed?

When your dog shows signs of destructive behavior, very often the cause is stress (and boredom). If your animal starts chewing up everything within reach, barks excessively, or experiences diarrhea, it might be a sign of needing more attention. (Vomiting and diarrhea can also be caused by a change in food and several other diseases. Please check with your vet if in doubt!).

Especially dogs that are kept alone and/or in crates for a long period of time have the tendency to either pester the owner for attention or develop a liking for chewing up everything from your dress shoes to sofas.

A simple solution to correct this behavior and to relieve stress is to schedule daily play time. Toss frisbees, balls, sticks, go for a jog or a long walk with your dog. It will not only calm down your animal and make it happier, but it will also reflect on your health and your waistline!

How to let your dog eat

There’s been a lot of controversy regarding how you should let your dog eat.  I’m not going to dwell on the different methods used across the world, except to say that a Dog Listener would definitely have its own approach with no confrontation. There does seem to be some myth that we should be able to disturb our dogs when eating or even be able to take their food away without the dog reacting.  Looking at food from a dog’s point of view, we can see why this is not the case.

For a dog, food is not only about survival, but it is also used for power and status. In a pack situation, the leaders eat first to guarantee their strength and survival. Then each member of the pack takes their turn according to status. With adopted dogs, you may want to give a little more time as that will definitely lead to more success.

Unfortunately, if there’s not enough food to go round, the lowest ranking and weakest members of the pack go without food: survival of the fittest. Once a dog has had their turn, there’s no going back for more – even for the leaders, it’s just not done. The only time a dog will be disturbed while eating is when a more junior pack member decides to raise their position by ousting the one that’s eating.

Most of the time, this will result in a fight as the challenger is put in their place and their opponent protects both their food and their status. Transfer this to a domestic situation. If you try to take your dog’s food away, your dog will see this as a challenge and will object to that challenge in the only way they know how – with their teeth and they might even start digging to protect their food. After all, how would you like it if someone tried to take your plate away while you were still eating!!

The easiest way to avoid this is to simply leave your dog well alone when eating – for the few minutes it takes for a dog to eat its food, have a rule that everyone just leaves the dog in peace. If there’s concern about small children, close the dog behind a door or baby gate. When eating is finished and the dog walks away from the bowl,  put the bowl out of reach of dog and children until the next mealtime – nothing for the dog to guard and protect.

However, there may be several factors to complicate this: what if the dog doesn’t eat all their food straight away and the bowl needs to be left in place; what if the dog objects to the bowl being removed after they have finished eating: what if the dog is eating something they shouldn’t and it needs to be retrieved. All of these situations can be dealt with using AB, without the need for any confrontation or aggression, but taking the power of food and any confusion over status away from the dog. There’s no such thing as a picky eater in a wild pack!

Finally, if you know you can take food away from your dog because you’ve already tried it, that might come in useful in an emergency situation but it doesn’t mean you should do it unnecessarily, just because you can – it might backfire one day if your dog gets fed up with it!