The right choice of breed for your family pet depends on many factors.  The basic one is your own level of experience, time available for exercise and size of home.  Some breeds are challenging for adults, not just kids so you have to be honest about your own ability to train  and be firm but fair with a dog.  Don’t forget, teaching your kids boundaries and respect is part of the deal.  Badly behaved, rude, disrespectful kids shouldn’t have any pet.  If they have no respect for you, they won’t have any for a pet and will get hurt.

If you aren’t very assertive or have little dog experience, then maybe breeds like the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Ridgeback and other large working breeds may not suit.  If you are an experienced dog owner, most breeds are suitable if you can train, socialise and create sensible boundaries and rules.

Start with your raw material.  Do not buy from a back yard breeder or puppy farmer.  This may seem straightforward, yet thousands of these dogs and puppies are sold and professionally I see dozens of them with serious problems.  If you buy a puppy from someone who has a pet dog or two, mates them or uses the dog down the road, then expect problems. You are very likely to buy a dog with serious health and behaviour issues.

Buying pedigree puppies that aren’t KC registered means you are buying from parents with no health tests, possible cross breeds, stolen dogs or from a banned breeder.  None of them are breeding dogs you’d want near your kids.  A KC reg is not a guarantee either.  Dogs can, in this country,  be registered even if the parents have no health tests done.  Do your research, find out which tests should have been done and proof can be shown.  Someone breeding pedigrees and not testing is greedy and selfish and doesn’t care whether your puppy lives to adulthood, don’t be fooled by liars.

If going down the rescue route, don’t make assumptions.  A rescue that doesn’t want to homecheck you, rehomes a dog that isn’t neutered, vaccinated or chipped is best avoided.  Some have dogs of all ages and sizes in foster homes with kids, so they know what the dog is used to.    Some won’t home to kids under 5.  Trust them, they have good reasons for caution.  Many will, if they can assess the dog properly.

Don’t fall into the typical mistake of thinking a puppy will grow up with your kids and automatically love them.  The fastest return of dogs is a puppy with a toddler.  Puppies have sharp teeth and claws and throw themselves at people.  Fine when you are 5 feet or more away, not fine when you are the same height as the puppy.  This doesn’t improve overnight,  don’t do it with babies and toddlers, you don’t have time to train both anyway.  You’d be best with an assessed older dog from a good rescue.

Some breeds are popular with kids.  Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not competitive and love attention but have major health issues, so only buy from a breeder who health tests.  Labs have two types, show and working.  Don’t buy a working type and expect it to be the typical, laid back, easy going Lab.  Buy show type and again,only with hip and eye tested parents.  There are dozens of crossbreeds out there of all types great with kids too.

Basically start with a tested puppy or adult from a good rescue or breeder.  Don’t fall for scams, don’t forget that after that, it’s down to you, get your bit right and you’ll have a lovely dog and enrich your kid’s lives.

Test a dog properly, don’t believe anything you don’t see for yourself.  See a dog feeding, having kids nearby, get adults to touch the dog eating, to take bones away from it.  Go for a walk, see what the dogs is like in public and with other dogs.  Believe nothing you haven’t seen, including pedigree paperwork, vaccinations and neutering proof.

All dogs benefit from training, whether for obedience or just social skills. No matter how many dogs you have had, the next one is new and needs help to become the dog you want.

About Safepets UK

Expert Witness behaviourist assessing dogs for court, treating cats and dogs. Covering Midlands to London and other areas.

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