Perhaps Charles Schultz, creator of Snoopy, said it best when he succinctly wrote, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Seems like a lot of people agree, with dogs being a member of 63.4 million American households in 2020.1 Certainly, many of those households include children, so families must find dogs that will be the best companion for all members of the family, whether they’re young at heart or still using diapers.
Choosing the right type of dog
While every household must consider all the relevant factors when choosing a dog, families with children must be particularly careful to find a compatible dog. What that means specifically will depend on the family, the ages of the children, the home, and other lifestyle factors. Of course, every potential dog owner should evaluate their home and lifestyle before adopting a dog. For example, do you have a yard? Will you be away from home all day? With a clear understanding of what type of environment and lifestyle you have, you can select a dog with the right temperament, size, needs, energy level, and age. Families with children must also consider the busy schedules and sometime hectic (and loud) environment that is part of raising a human family.
Obviously, every dog is unique and will have its own personality, but some breeds of dogs are generally known for being particularly compatible with kids. According to the American Kennel Club, the breeds that are generally best for families include Labrador retrievers, bull dogs, golden retrievers, beagles, and pugs.2 Since all dogs will need proper training, families may also consider types of dogs that are considered most trainable, including border collies, poodles, golden retrievers, Shetland sheepdogs, and Labrador retrievers.3
Some families will prefer to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue. In that case, most pet adoption agencies will have some information on each dog in need of a forever home. Many shelter dogs will come with a detailed history on breed, temperament, personality, and behavior based on reports by a previous owner or observations from the shelter staff. Regardless, dogs will always need time and guidance to fully adjust to a new family and home, so there will most certainly be a transition period as the dog (and your family) get comfortable with the new family makeup. Be patient with a new dog and have realistic expectations. Moreover, if you need help, consult with a pet health care professional or trainer for advice. Also, make sure your children not only meet a prospective furry sibling, but have a say in which dog seems best for the entire family.
Introducing a baby to a family dog
Many families already have a dog and then add a child. In this case, dog parents should make sure their fur baby is prepared for a new sibling. Adding a human baby will result in many lifestyle changes, and you must remember that your dog’s day-to-day life will change too. Before the baby is born, there are a few proactive steps you can take, such as working on existing or new training skills, particularly verbal commands. You will also need to make sure your dog understands how to be gentle, and prepare your dog for a baby’s touch, which may not always be as gentle.
As you plan for a new baby, anticipate the changes to the family’s daily schedule, and start implementing new routines early. For example, new parents will likely be waking up several times during the night, and that means your dog will be waking up as well. This may also include new household rules, such as the baby’s room being off-limits to your pet at first, so make sure your dog understands any new household rules. You might also introduce your dog to various baby items that will bring new sights, smells, and sounds to your home. While dogs are creatures of habit, they are also adaptable. Be patient and consistent, and the addition of a new family member should go smoothly.
As you await the arrival of the bundle of joy, bring your dog in for a wellness check and make sure your dog’s medical and health needs are being met. Having the right health and wellness plan with Pets Best always provides you with the peace of mind that your fur baby is healthy. Finally, in anticipation of the actual delivery, make sure you have a care plan in place for your dog for as long as you need to be away from the home. Being prepared is the best advice and will help the entire family during this exciting, yet stressful, time.
Health benefits of growing up with a dog
The special bond between a child and a dog has long been celebrated in TV, movies, books, and every aspect of popular culture. Interestingly, there is significant evidence that growing up with a dog has health benefits, both mentally and physically. For example, scientists have found that children who grow up in households with dogs have a lower risk for developing autoimmune illnesses like asthma and allergies because the family dogs introduce a wider diversity of microbes to the family environment.4 Additionally, a 2020 Australian study found that children with dogs were 33% more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior compared to children without dogs.5
Dogs have always been valued for the companionship they provide to every family member, particularly children. Children that grow up with a dog sibling also learn responsibility, have a generally more active lifestyle, and certainly benefit from the simple joy that a dog brings with a simple wag of the tail.6
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