What to Look For When Getting a Family Pet
Ask the Veterinarian, Alison
Q. I have 2 children, a 6 year old boy and a 4 year old girl, and they absolutely love dogs. They have been asking, let me rephrase, begging us for a dog for at least 2 years. We are going to get a puppy this summer and just had a few questions. Which breeds are the best for children and young families, and do you have any tips for getting the new puppy and our family acclimated?
A. This is a great question and one I get all the time. Families with children should look for a dog breed that is friendly, great with children, and not too hyper. My top dogs breeds for families with children are boxers, newfoundlands, shetland sheepdogs, labrador retrievers, mutts, golden retrievers, bulldogs, beagles, bichon fries, collies, Irish setters, and golden or labrodoodles.
Some tips for introducing new dogs to the family:
- It is important to take into consideration the size of the dog and your lifestyle. For instance, if you live in an apartment or condominium, I would recommend a small breed dog that requires less exercise and less space. If you live in a home with a large backyard, you can definitely go with a larger dog if that is your preference.
- Puppies are easier to introduce to families than adult dogs. They grow up with the kids and learn to be far more patient and understanding with children. This is not to say adult dogs are not wonderful and great with children. I would just recommend getting a thorough history of your new pet's past and make sure they have been around or grew up with children.
- It is important to take into account how often you will be home to take care of your dog. For instance, if both parents work and are not home throughout the day, you are going to want a breed that has lower energy, perhaps smaller, and does not require as much exercise.
- If at any point a dog has shown aggression towards children, it is important to note that you should never 100% trust the dog around kids. This is generally a natural instinct for dogs. While you certainly can work with them and a trainer, it is very difficult to teach a dog to never to show signs of aggression towards children if they have this instinct.