Your children and your dog can be best buddies, or there can be friction between the two. Both dog and child need to be trained to respect each other. Otherwise, you will find yourself having to scold one or the other—or both. There has to be a good match between the temperament of your child and that of the dog. If you have a high energy child, you want a dog who can keep up, such as a lab or a retriever. Very small dogs don’t enjoy romping with children as much as the larger breeds. Small dogs and puppies can be injured by children who are not careful how they treat the dog. Aggressive behavior in children—poking, pulling on or hitting the dog–can lead to a dog snapping or becoming afraid of the child. And aggressive dogs can react badly to things such as a child yelling, or sudden movements that from the dog’s perspective seem threatening. Remember, almost any dog will snap if severely provoked.
You need to make sure that all child/dog interaction is supervised. Dogs should never be left alone with infants. Breed characteristics come into play as well. The herding breeds are bred to—herd—and they will try to herd your children around the house unless the dog is trained not to do so. This experience can be upsetting to a young child.
The dog’s safety can be an issue as well. Children can forget to close doors or fence gates. Many times that is how a dog escapes and gets lost—or worse, gets hit by a car. An astounding number of dogs are separated from their owners this way every year—a totally preventable problem. Everyone in the household and even your child’s friends who come over need to be reminded to keep screen doors latched and fence gates closed. Losing a dog that a youngster has just become bonded with is a tragedy no child should have to go through. When you research the various breeds, find out which ones are most prone to escaping the house. Some breeds just simply love to run and take any opportunity to do so.
Toy breeds can be injured by toddlers by dropping it, holding it too tight or falling on it.
Extremely boisterous dogs can hurt a child by knocking him over. The dog is much more coordinated than the child, after all, and wants the child to “play like a dog”. Breeds that were bred to be guardians can become agitated by children engaging in horseplay or running around the house.
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