When you have kids, searching for the best family dog will be one of your top priorities. As a mom of three kids and two dogs and a foster dog mom, I totally understand the need and desire to find a dog that is child-friendly.
Studies have shown that dogs can have a positive effect on our children’s lives. From boosting self-esteem to having less stress, learning responsibility, and over-all just healthier kids.
It’s no wonder why we love our dogs so much! Dogs complete our families with their unconditional love.
I want you to know, you are in the right place, I have dedicated my life to helping parents find their perfect dog.
You want to do the right thing and adopt a rescue dog, but it can be scary when you don’t know the dog’s history.
Questions swarm your mind… Will the dog be good with my baby or toddler? How do I know that the rescue dog won’t bite my kids? What is the best dog to get for my children?
First, I recommend finding a rescue that is foster-home based. Meaning that the adoptable dogs live in a home with families while they wait to find them forever home. When a dog is in foster care, they are more likely to be exposed to children and other dogs, all in a home setting.
Even if you really want to get a pure-breed dog, there are breed-specific rescues all around the United States. The AKC website has a huge database that allow you to search in your area by breed.
Asking all the right questions can be the difference between adopting a dog with unknown health or behavior issues and adopting your perfect and healthy dog. This adoption interview PDF makes it easy to remember to ask those questions!
53 questions you MUST ask before adopting a dog...
In general, some breeds tend to be more patient than others and more suited for children. But the reality is that any dog can bite, a pure breed golden retriever or a rescue mutt from the shelter.
It’s more important to look at the individual dog’s personality and energy level instead of the breed. Finding a family dog that is calm and patient is the priority no matter the breed of the dog.
Golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers are the most popular family dogs for a reason, they have lots of energy to keep up with the kids, but can also be calm and very patient with kids screaming and running around the house. But I’ve also heard stories of these dogs bitting children too.
Head over to our adoption resource page to learn more about adopting your perfect dog!
I highly recommend having your children involved in researching which dog to adopt. The more involved they are in the entire process of getting a dog, the more they learn and the more they will respect the dog and the responsibility of owning a dog.
Many parents think that getting a small dog will be better for their child because they are more their size. But the reality is that because they are small, kids think it’s okay to pick up the dog even when they don’t want to be. It’s also easier for small dogs to get injured when stepped on my running toddlers or toy-tossing babies.
A big dog is sturdier but can easily knock over a baby or toddler. When our yellow lab gets excited, he forgets he is 90 lbs. and his tail can be a lethal weapon! But that didn’t stop us from adopting labs when my kids were babies. Labs really are gentle and the most patient dogs we’ve ever owned.
This is just a general list of popular dog breeds that are great for families with children of all ages. Remember that finding a dog with the right personality and temperament should be your deciding factor when adopting a dog.
I recommend avoiding herding breeds such as the border collie. Dogs with strong herding instincts usually want to herd their children too. This can lead to ankle-nipping and knocking small children over.
Many people think they want a puppy instead of adopting an older dog. While there are plenty of puppies ready for adoption, please consider the benefits of an older dog when you have children. Do you have time for potty training? Puppies can nip little hands, chew and destroy toys laying on the floor, and need lots of training.
Are you getting ready to adopt a new dog? Make sure to read 53 Questions You MUST Ask a Rescue BEFORE Adopting a Dog
It is really important to learn about your dog’s body language and then teach your children. If you have a few minutes, watch my video above. This is something I am very passionate about.
Never leave young kids alone with a new dog. We’ve all heard it, “I only looked away for a split second”. It’s unfortunate, but any dog has the capability to bite our kids. Many parents will say “it happened out of nowhere”, or “he’s never bitten anyone before”. Just because your gentle dog tolerates your kids pulling his tail or jumping on his back, doesn’t mean it’s okay to allow them to do it. At first, you may think he’s tolerating it but watch his body language. Read Why Family Dogs Bite to learn more.
You love your dog, he is your family and you'd do anything for him, right? Then you owe it to him to learn his language.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.