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Articles > Dogs

Dogs For Infants And Toddlers

Topic: Most Popular Breeds for Children

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There are two different schools of thought when it comes to having a dog around when you have an infant or toddler in the house. One thought is to raise a child and a puppy together, and the other group recommends waiting until the child is a bit older so that the child can be involved in selecting a dog to make it truly theirs. Another important consideration is the amount of time that is actually involved in raising and training a puppy. This is an important consideration when parents are already stretched with trying to care for a newborn or infant in the house. Puppies will require housetraining, obedience training and lots of love and attention in order to adjust to life at a new house. One of the biggest issues is that puppies, like infants, are going to require some level of round the clock supervision, especially when you are housetraining. When puppies and infants are in the house together often the puppy's training is put on the back burner, resulting in poor socialization of the puppy that can impact the dog's temperament and behavior throughout their life.

Toddlers and puppies are not typically a good combination for a variety of reasons. Toddlers are often very active, crawling around and then, of course, taking their first shaky steps at learning how to walk. Puppies, like toddlers, are not completely coordinated plus they are often directly under foot, posing a risk of tripping young children as well as being injured themselves. Toddlers and puppies also tend to have the same types of grabbing behaviors, puppies with their mouths and sharp teeth can easily bite or scrape a child, resulting in injury. All puppies will go through a period known as mouthing, which is the puppy's way of exploring their environment. They will chew on anything they find to learn more about it and whether it is something that is good to eat or something that is not for their consumption. They will mouth hands, feet and almost anything else, so this is not a good stage where young toddlers and puppies should be left together.

There is also the added complication that toddlers and infants also tend to put everything in their mouths, including dog toys, their hands after petting the dog and all other objects they encounter. While vaccinated and wormed puppies pose little risk to toddler or infants for disease transmission, there is always the chance that this can be a problem.

Best Dogs For Toddlers Or Infants

Older, more mature calm dogs that have been well socialized with children are the very best option for homes with very young kids. If you have a dog in the family and are expecting a child, start socializing your dog with kids at the earliest possible time. Find ways to have your dog, under your control, spend time with other children and babies, even just getting use to the sounds, smells and actions of a baby is important.

Dogs are not jealous of babies, despite what common dog behavior myths may indicate. Dogs may be naturally curious about the baby and may be somewhat frightened or even alarmed by this squalling, wiggling thing that is so new in the house. One of the best ways to get the dog familiar with the baby is to provide a blanket that the baby has slept on for the dog to smell before even bringing the baby home. Usually within a few weeks if the dog is allowed to see and be around the baby in a very controlled setting he or she will be comfortable with the new arrival.

There is not one particular breed or type of dog that is best with newborns and toddlers, however generally larger breeds are a better choice. Larger breeds tend to be less timid, less likely to be easily frightened and also less likely to be accidentally injured by a toddler falling on or over them. This is still highly dependent on the individual temperament of the dog however. The more dogs are socialized with very young children the more accepting they will be.

Some breeds of dogs that are known to have almost unlimited patience with very young children include the Bulldog group of breeds as well as the Mastiffs. These dogs as a group are more sedate, very calm and slow moving and seem to have a natural love of really small children. Kids still need to be carefully supervised around any type of dog but the Bulldogs and Mastiffs are universally known for their toddler friendly attitudes.

Another breed that is very good with children when raised with infants is the Akita Inu. This very large sized Japanese dog is a natural protector and will quickly see children in the family as its pack, meaning that the dog will keep the toddler close to the rest of the pack, gently steering the child back towards the parents as they move around in their space. In Japan it is often the case where the dogs are left to watch over children playing outdoors, working like a herding dog to keep the young children within their territory or area. The Akita is also a very docile dog, happy to let children climb on them and even involve them in their games with toys.

The Basset Hound, a solid yet low to the ground hunting type of dog is an excellent companion dog for young kids. They are slow moving, very affectionate dogs that seem to thrive on the attention that a toddler provides. They are solid dogs that are happy to just lie down and watch the child play but also have a good sense of play themselves for when the child gets a bit older. Often the Basset Hound that is raised with kids will be seen happily following the children about as they learn to crawl and walk. The Basset tends to not be easily alarmed by anything that a child does, especially when well socialized.

Standard Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Collies, English Setters, Samoyeds, Newfoundlands and Bernese Mountain Dogs are all good matches for households with very young infants and toddlers. Choose a dog that has a calm temperament and that has been raised in a household with children for the best possible match.

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