Which Dog Should I Adopt If I Have Kids?

Published on May 5, 2020 by Charlie Buehler

Are you looking to adopt a dog for your family with kids? One of the advantages a vet tech has is the extensive time spent caring for hundreds of different breeds. A vet tech can help a dog owner that has kids to choose the best dog for their family. Anyone that’s considering adopting a dog should be aware that pet ownership is a privilege, a responsibility, and a lifetime commitment.

Here’s What You Should Know Before You Adopt

Adopting any pet brings a commitment of time, energy, and financial responsibility. Besides a lot of love and attention, dogs need food, shelter, a comfortable place to sleep, and medical care. Annual wellness exams may include vaccinations, blood work, and any lab tests deemed necessary by a veterinarian. As dogs age, they should have an exam twice a year. Veterinarians may recommend special diets for dogs with mobility problems, digestive issues, or allergies. It’s essential for the health of your pet to follow your vet’s recommendations.

Adopting a dog is a commitment for the lifetime of the pet. Most dogs have a lifespan of approximately 13 years. However, the number of years a dog lives depends on the breed and size. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs end up in shelters because their owners didn’t understand the dog’s needs before they adopted them. Learn about the breed that interests you and be willing to compromise if you don’t think that breed is a good fit for you.

The person in the family who chooses to adopt the pet is its owner. Other family members may take on some of the responsibility of the dog’s care, but most of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the person who decided to adopt the pet. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has great resources about different breeds like their temperaments, what they were originally breed for, activity levels, and even breed specific health conditions to be aware of.

You should consider your lifestyle when contemplating adopting a dog. Think about the activities, hobbies, and personalities of everyone in your family. Consider the needs of a dog before you adopt a puppy or an adult. You should think about:

Get recommendations from friends about local veterinarians and talk to vet techs and people in pet rescue groups about who they recommend. Vet techs and rescue personnel are excellent sources of information.

Make sure your home is pet friendly. Before you bring your dog home, go through all of the rooms in your house and remove any possible hazards. Sugar-free products that contain xylitol are extremely toxic to dogs. Keep food in cabinets and out of reach. Check for electrical cords and unprotected outlets that could attract a dog.

Keep all small toys, chemicals, and medications out of reach. Cleaning supplies and medications should be stored in cabinets that your dog can’t access. Make sure that plants in your home or yard are out-of-reach.

Not all dog foods are created equal. Some have packaging that attracts buyers and others make claims that they can’t back up with research. Your vet tech can recommend a breed and age-appropriate food based on your dog’s age, lifestyle, and breed.  When you decide on the dog to adopt, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a wellness exam.

Why Adopt A Dog?

Dogs are wonderful pets, a great addition to a family, and a wonderful companions for children and adults. More than two million dogs are available for adoption in the United States each year, according to the ASPCA. One of the reasons that there are so many adoptable pets in shelters is that a lot of people buy dogs from breeders. Also, they may not spay or neuter a dog, allowing it to have puppies that the owner is unable to care for. These puppies end up in shelters.

A lot of people don’t look for a pet in a shelter. Many have the misconception that shelter dogs have problems or illnesses and that the owner gave them up voluntarily. Another reason that more people don’t adopt pets from shelters is that some shelters are in rural areas or only have limited times for adoptions. Here’s why you should adopt a dog and what you can expect a shelter dog to act like from the first time you meet to a general guide line for the time frame it takes for your new pet to acclimate to your home and life style.

What Behavior to Expect From a Shelter Pet

As you can imagine, most shelter animals do not get a lot of mental or physical stimulation in a shelter or rescue facility. There are a lot of dogs and not a lot of volunteers to help enrich and exercise these animals. With that being said it is really common when walking through a shelter to see dogs barking loudly, jumping up and down in a cage, or otherwise appearing as if they have too much energy for you or your kids. Truth be told you are the most exciting part of their day and without any other way of releasing all of that built up energy they display the behaviors above. But don’t let this discourage you.

Often times you can ask a volunteer to take the dog out of their cage in to a “meet and greet” area where you will have an opportunity to play with them, pet them, and really get to know them.

How Long Does it Take for Them to Become Comfortable with My House and Family?

There is a saying of “The big 3’s” according to Drs. London and McConnell. Three days, three weeks, 3 months. Of course this is a general guide line and each animal should be assessed on as an individual. It typically takes about 3 days for a new pet to adjust from shelter life to home life, 3 weeks for them to learn the routine of your home, and 3 months to know they are “home”.

It’s a learning curve for them just as much as it is for us and we need to be patient to help the family and the animal succeed in the adoption. More information can be found at dogsoutloud.org.

Save An Animal’s Life

You can save the life of a dog or puppy that desperately needs a home and a family of their own. When you adopt, you’ll open up a spot in the shelter for another homeless dog. Shelters charge a set fee to adopt a dog or puppy that covers the cost of vaccinations and spay/neuter procedures. In some areas, anyone adopting a dog has to agree to have the pet spayed or neutered within a certain time frame.

Give A Shelter Animal A Home

A lot of dogs end up in shelters because of family problems like a divorce or a move. The dogs aren’t given up because they did anything wrong. When you give a shelter animal a home, you’re giving that dog a second chance for a happy life.

Cut Down on the Number of Homeless Dogs

Adopting a dog from a shelter or a rescue group cuts down on the number of homeless pets. A lot of the dogs placed in shelters or rescues are pure breeds. Many dogs have been given up by owners who did no research on the breed and became overwhelmed by the needs of the pet. When the dog has a litter, the mother and puppies can be relinquished to a shelter, especially if homes can’t be found for them.

When you adopt a dog from a rescue, you’re helping the organization to save more pets. Pet rescue groups are non-profit organizations that are run by volunteers and rely on donations. A lot of shelters and rescues hold adoption events so adopters can meet and greet the dogs that are available. Some rescue volunteer’s conducts a home visit to make sure the dog is going to a good home.

What Dogs Have a Good Temperament Toward Kids?

There’s nothing better for a kid than growing up with a dog. If a kid and a dog are going to live in the same house, you want to choose a breed that has a good temperament and is gentle with children.

Although a lot of breeds have excellent temperaments and get along well with kids, you must consider the age of the kid and their activity level as well as the energy level and temperament of the dog before choosing your new pet. Great Danes, Mastiffs, Saint Bernards and other large breeds can knock kids down during play. Small breeds like Yorkies or chihuahuas could easily get hurt by younger children who don’t understand how delicate they are.

Here are some breeds that have a good temperament around kids.

  1. Labradors are one of the most popular dog breeds. Labs are intelligent, very friendly, and seldom show any aggression. The breed loves being around adults and children and are very easy to train.
  2. Golden Retrievers have a calm disposition and are eager to please their owners. Goldens are easy to train and are very intelligent. With a calm disposition, Goldens are wonderful with children. Since they’re so big they could knock a small child down while they’re playing, but they’re very tolerant of little kids.
  3. Collies are especially friendly and loyal. Collies are considered to be one of the best breeds with children. Their herding instinct makes them an excellent choice for families with small children.
  4. Beagles are very loyal to the kids in their families. They have a carefree, laidback disposition and love to play with kids of all ages. The only thing to be aware of is that Beagles can be food aggressive so children shouldn’t be left alone with them when they’re being fed.
  5. Saint Bernards are popular as family dogs because they’re so loyal but should be adopted by families with older children. This breed is extremely protective of its owners. Saint Bernards don’t do well in humid weather and are most comfortable in cold climates.
  6. Poodles are loving, affectionate dogs that love to play and do well with children. Toy Poodles aren’t recommended for families with small children since they can be snappy and could be injured by younger kids.
  7. Bassett Hounds are friendly, affectionate, and love to play outdoors. The breed is tolerant and gentle. Bassetts don’t have aggressive traits, however the breed is delicate so it isn’t recommended for families with very young kids.

How Should Kids Approach A New Dog?

Bringing a new dog into your home is a happy occasion but everyone in the family must be prepared for this new family member. Although kids are usually ready to accept a dog, the dog might not be ready for kids. It’s essential to talk to the dog’s current caretaker and find out about his or her history with kids.

Kids should be taught to approach a new dog with deliberate and slow movements. Dogs are usually more comfortable with adults since their movements are more inhibited and slower than children’s movements. Kids must be taught they have to move slowly and be gentle with their new pet. Parents can give their kids treats to use to entice their pet. When the dog comes to them, a treat can be the reward. The dog will start to associate the child with a positive experience. Make sure to have kids hold their hands out flat, with palms up.

When the dog has accepted a treat, have your child walk away and crouch down. Allow the dog to walk over and sniff the kid. When the dog is relaxed, take your kid’s hand and show him or her how to gently pet the dog. Teach your child to pet the dog on his back which is less intrusive to your pet.

Treats can be part of the interaction between kids and dogs. Always make sure to supervise social interaction until kids and dogs have established a good relationship. The main thing is to be consistent with commands and the interaction your kids have with your dog. A dog may develop anxiety if commands and training aren’t consistent.

How Can a Dog Owner Train a Dog to Get Along with a Kid?

If you adopt a puppy, socialization is critical at an early age. The puppy should meet children of different ages in new situations. When a puppy has positive experiences with children it will feel comfortable around them. Adult dogs should meet children of different ages as well. Give your dog a lot of praise and some treats for good behavior.

Start obedience training at home and teach your dog a few basic commands so it will know how to behave around kids. If you feel more comfortable, obedience classes can be beneficial for puppies and adult dogs.

Kids usually get excited when they meet a dog and may try to hug the dog or pull on its tail or ears. This can be very scary to a dog who doesn’t really know their new family yet. To get a dog accustomed to being handled in this way, an adult should gently pull at its tail, handle its ears, and hug it while watching the animals body language. Offer treats as a reward when the dog reacts in a positive way.

To keep your dog from knocking over small kids, teach them not to jump up, when it is okay to have “ruff” play and when they need to be calm. Teach your dog to sit and stay when you walk in the door. If it doesn’t get the idea, walk outside then come back into the house. Tell the dog again to sit and reward it with a treat for obeying.

Final Thoughts

Other breeds that are great for families with kids are the American Eskimo, Bichon Frise, Boxer, Dachshund, English Bulldog, and German Shepherd. Children should be taught proper behavior around dogs and learn to treat them well.

Did learning which dog to adopt with kids interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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