Top Concerns for Families with Children Adopting and Handling Dogs

Here is a list of questions from a person who wants to get a dog or puppy but has a 4-month-old baby and a 4-year-old son. It's a good list of questions and answers for anyone with kids who is thinking about getting a dog. (My responses follow the A:) ...

Q: What is the best age dog to get for a family with children (puppy or older than a year)?

A: I believe you should get a dog that is at least two years old. Any younger than two, and you'll have to deal with a lot of puppy/adolescent behavior, which can be challenging with a baby and a very active boy in the house.

Q: Most shelters list what is best for the dog, such as children over the age of ten; how can I find a dog that is suitable for children under the age of ten?

A: I believe you should get a medium-sized or larger dog...a small dog can be easily injured with your son's age and energy, and simply because your son is too young to fully understand what can hurt a dog.

Q: What is better, purebreds or mutts, and for whom?

A:In general, mixed breeds are healthier and have the best of both traits. However, breed rescue groups can also be excellent places to adopt adult dogs because the dogs are living in foster care, which is more like a real home than a shelter, so their personalities are better known.

Q: Is there a dog breed that is better with children than others? According to shelters, it depends on the dog.

A:Because there are so many differences between breeds, it really depends on the dog, but shelters and rescue organizations are generally trained to know what each dog's temperament and personality is like that they have available for adoption, so they could meet with you and discuss what dogs they have available. You may believe that a high-energy dog will match your son's energy, but I would not get a high-energy dog with a baby and a small child. High-energy, young dogs require a lot of exercise, such as three long, fast-paced walks lasting up to an hour each, and they can NEVER skip a walk.

High-energy dogs do better with owners who plan to participate in dog agility, dog sports, hiking, daily running, and are always on the go. Even playing with your active son will not provide enough exercise for a high-energy dog, in my opinion. Consider your energy level and typical schedule as a parent and try to match it.

Q: What size dog is best for a small yard? Is it better to have a large dog for a large yard and a small dog for a small yard? Shelters claim the opposite. Smaller dogs have more energy than larger dogs.

A: In my opinion, dogs that go for daily walks do well, so the size of your yard doesn't matter all that much. Again, I believe a medium-sized dog would be suitable for you.

Q: Where can I go for dog training that includes a child so they can learn as well? Perhaps you???

A:Your four-year-old son is far too young to participate in professional training. What I would recommend is that parents first learn dog training and then teach their children the very basics, such as what they are and are not allowed to do. Make the dog sit before giving him a treat, for example. Do not feed the dog at the dinner table. Teach your children some of the family dog rules. Furthermore, when you learn command words, you can teach them to your child at an appropriate age because it is difficult for him to be consistent enough. You, the parent, will be in charge of the training.

Q: What breed of dog can tolerate being left alone for part of the day?

A: Most dogs can be left alone for a portion of the day if they have been well exercised, tired out, and fed before you leave. You might consider putting them in a crate while you're gone, but that depends on the dog.

Q: What is the best way to introduce your dog to your baby?

A:The dog should not be allowed near the baby until you have established yourself as the dog's leader. You, as its leader, can later introduce the baby, but only on leash and after you've done some training with the dog. Otherwise, the dog should not be allowed to be near the baby during the first few weeks. When you do introduce the dog, you should first expose them to the smell of the baby through the baby's items, and then have them sit quietly next to the baby in a down stay while you hold the baby.

The dog can smell the baby's feet and legs but not the baby's face just yet. Babies and small children should always be supervised around your dog.

Q: How often should I feed the dog?

A: It is best for their health if they eat twice a day. They must also be allowed to relieve themselves after eating.

Q: What is the best dog food, and what ingredients should and should not be included?

A: If your dog has no health issues, some premium foods with fewer by-products are suitable. You can discuss this with your veterinarian after your dog has been examined...they will know more about their fur, skin, and other characteristics to recommend a food for you.

Q: What resources are available to help you find a good dog-to-family match?

A: An excellent shelter or rescue organization

These resources should be available. They should be familiar with their dogs and committed to matching the dog with the right person. You should not adopt from them if they are not. I am also willing to work with people one-on-one through my website to help them choose the best dog for their family.

Q: Can a dog be adopted right away if there is an infant in the house, or should there be a waiting period? Is a puppy or an older dog preferable?

A: I know I couldn't handle having a new dog with a newborn because it requires a lot of responsibility with the exercise, brushing, cleaning up after the dog, and extra supervision. You will not be able to leave your children unsupervised around the dog for the first few months until you have established your training with your dog and your son understands what he can and cannot do with the dog.

Q: What should you look for in a dog that shelters might not tell you?

A: If it's a good shelter, they should be completely honest with you. Shelters are cautious because they do not want the dog to be returned to the shelter.

Q: What should you do if your puppy bites?

A: Having a puppy requires A LOT OF TIME! Teething takes a long time, and their teeth are very sharp when they are small. You must always provide your puppy with something to chew on and be precise in your timing and technique. I have a lot of this information in more detail on my site as well, and I am happy to work with you personally through the site as well.

Q: Is it true that an old dog cannot learn new tricks????

A: Yes, even old dogs can learn new tricks. The amazing thing about dogs is that they learn anything you teach them well!

Best wishes in your search for the perfect dog for you and your family!