Saturday, March 1, 2008

Choosing a Dog For Your Child

Not only are dogs loyal, empathetic and wonderful companions but they also teach your child responsibility and administer huge doses of unconditional love. Children and dogs seem to naturally fit together and can often form a lifelong bond that is even stronger than one might imagine. It can be extremely hard to choose the right dog for your child as there are so many different breeds and temperaments to choose from. Most of us simply go to the pet store and choose the cutest "doggie in the window" which may not be the best option.

1. Understand that owning a dog is a huge emotional and financial responsibility. Dogs require a lot of care and although your child will likely assist, it will ultimately be up to you (the parent) to properly care for the new canine family member. So, be prepared to handle the majority of your new dog’s care.

2. Conduct an online research dog breeds or ask your local veterinarian or shelter for recommendations. It is extremely important to involve your child in the selection process. Make choosing a dog family affair and all family members should research dog breeds and or temperamental traits.

3. Make sure that the dog's temperament matches your child's temperament. For instance if you have a rambunctious child, you should never pair him with a shy dog. On the same token, you should never pair a shy child with an aggressive dog. By carefully matching temperaments, you set the stage for a positive human/canine relationship to develop without strife or strain.

4. Ensure that the dog that you selected does not have aggressive tendencies.

5. Let your child interact with the dog and see how the chosen dog might respond.

6. Encourage your child to respect all dogs at all times.

7. You should teach your child that dogs have a natural tendency to bite when startled or frightened. Teach them not to play tug-o-war or other aggressive games with a dog. Also, teach your child never to bother a dog when the dog is eating.

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