I know families who have had children relentlessly begging for a dog year after year. I’ve heard every excuse in the book: “I’ll clean up the poop,” “I’ll feed him,” “I’ll take him for a walk every day,” “I’ll never let my room get dirty again!” When it comes down to it though, never buy a dog for a child just because he or she wants one. A dog is a family responsibility and instantly becomes a family member, and just as needy as a child.
Once your family decides that all are ready for the responsibilities that come with being a dog-owner, there are some decisions to be made. Are you going to rescue a dog or purchase one from a breeder? Does anybody in your family have dog allergies? What will be done with him during the day when everyone is at work or school and what about nighttime when everyone is asleep? Unless you have definite answers to these questions, you’d better wait until you are all more prepared. If you have it all figured out, let the search begin.
How to Decide Upon a Breed
The best place to look for dog breed information is in a reputable dog breed book or on the AKC website. This will list every pure breed of dog along with its characteristics and behaviors, both the good and the bad. The most obvious thing people think about when choosing a dog is its appearance but there is so much more than just the exterior. After all, would you buy the most awesome car in the world if it didn’t have anything under the hood? Things like grooming requirements, temperaments, exercise requirements, and trainability all need to be considered and are all covered on the AKC website. Once you begin to narrow down your choices you can then talk to a vet, breeder or breed-specific rescue group about specific breeds of interest.
Breeds for Kids
No, not breeds of kids; breeds for them! Some dog breeds have a reputation of being more kid-friendly than others. Although I wouldn’t rule any dog out based on reputation, I might stick with a breed that is known for being calm and friendly if I had small children in my home. Dog breeds that are marked as highly trainable are an excellent choice for kids since trainability is synonymous with “eager to please” and “family oriented” rather than centered on one person. Dog breeds that are marked in the sporting group are also, a great choice. These dogs coexist with humans easily and have a long history of being man’s best friend.
Usually large breeds of dogs do well with small children. In general, larger breeds are usually more tolerant, patient, and docile than small breeds. Tiny dogs could become seriously injured by the pulling and prodding of small children, and in turn, those dogs may be more likely to bite in self-defense and possibly cause injury to the children.
Once you decide upon a dog breed, be prepared with all the pet supplies, cleaning equipment, and crates that you will need. Be ready to take the new pup everywhere with you so he can experience new situations and meet new people. The first 9 months of his life will set the stage for the rest of his years so give him lots of love and plenty of great memories.