May 11, 2010

Children and Dogs

Filed under: Children and Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:50 pm

In most situations, dogs and kids cohabitate very nicely.  They can quickly form loving bonds that last for many years.  A lot of us remember our first dogs very fondly; yet, because both children and dogs are unpredictable there are some behavioral issues that may arise from time to time.  Not only should you try to select a breed of dog that is suitable for children, but you also need to teach your children how to behave around dogs.

canine stress First of all, it’s important to remember that not all breeds of dogs will interact well with children and that children do not always interact well with dogs.  Medium-sized dogs with a laid back personality are generally well suited to being family pets.  Labradors and Golden Retrievers are obvious examples.  Small dogs should be avoided because children’s rough behavior may threaten small dogs and cause aggressive behavior.  Similarly, larger dogs that have traditionally been used for hunting can have a naturally more aggressive personality and may not make a good pet for children.

Most importantly, you must realize that dogs are pack animals that naturally rank members of their group according to dominance and submission.  Dogs will generally recognize their adult owners as dominant but may not show children the same respect.  Children should be taught to be direct and consistent with dogs and you need to take special care to ensure that your dog understands that he is subordinate to your children.

The vast majority of dog/child relationships are based on love and affection which is why dogs make such great pets for kids.  Still, never forget that dogs and children may not always understand each other’s behavioral cues and as the adult you need to set clear boundaries for your pets and your children.

About Dr. Amber Reed

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