Having a dog can benefit kids in a lot of ways. Dogs help children develop emotionally, encourage responsibility, and provide comfort and companionship. Research has even shown that youngsters who grow up with pets in their home are less likely to develop allergies and asthma.
But, what kind of dog makes the best match for families with kids? Below are some traits that make a kid-friendly canine companion:
•Just the right size: Dogs that are too large and rambunctious may inadvertently knock a small child over during play. On the other end of the spectrum, dogs that are too small can accidentally be stepped on or dropped by young children. It’s important to keep the safety of both your children and the dog in mind. Of course, this is just a guideline. There are plenty of gentle giants out there and sturdy dogs that are on the smaller side. Children should be supervised with any dog, no matter the size, to ensure safety.
•Playful: Kids love to play! Choosing a dog that is energetic enough to keep up with the fun is a good idea. Just be sure your family has enough time to devote to keeping an active dog exercised and stimulated in order to prevent behavior problems.
•Non-Aggressive: This one may seem obvious, but choosing a dog that isn’t fearful or aggressive toward people is extremely important. Dogs in need of significant training and socialization to get over any fearfulness or aggression are probably better suited for experienced owners in adult-only households.
•Well-Trained: Let’s be clear, this trait is not innate and requires work on the part of the owner. Dogs in households with children should be taught to walk well on a leash (so the child can hold the leash) and also to come when called. Kids are more likely to accidentally drop a leash or leave a gate open. To ensure safety, children should never walk a dog by themselves and any gates should be secured with a lock for extra protection.
No matter which dog you choose, education is important. Children should be taught how to gently handle a dog and should be supervised during play. Getting the whole family involved in a dog training class can help everyone get on the same page.