Dog and child: How to make a dream team
You and your partner, you are already proud parents and now want to make the family happiness perfect with the arrival of a dog? Maybe you already share your life with a dog that will meet your offspring in a few weeks? We explain to you which dog breeds are particularly suitable and how you can properly bring together fur noses and children so that a real and long-lasting friendship develops.
6 reasons why dogs are good for children
Children live innocently and are usually animal-friendly by nature. Dogs in particular are a magical attraction for children and are high on the wish list of the little ones. We give you 6 reasons why children and dogs benefit from each other and why it might make sense to fulfill your child's pet wish.:
- Health: Dogs influence the physical and psychological well-being. The unconditional love and loyalty of the four-legged friends strengthens the emotional bond and trust. In addition, a study by the Finnish University of Kuopio shows that children who grow up with dogs suffer less frequently from respiratory diseases.
- Fresh Air: Walks in nature are healthy. Playing and running around together in the home garden and surrounding fields is also great fun. By the way, time outdoors strengthens the immune system and the relationship between child and dog.
- Allergies: If a child grows up with a dog from the beginning, allergies and eczema are less likely to develop. That's according to a University of Cincinnati study published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
- Responsibility: Children learn from their parents and often adopt their behavior. Whether it's feeding, proper grooming or extensive walks: Strengthen your child's sense of responsibility by explaining important tasks and thereby encouraging their enjoyment of working with animals.
- Self-confidence: Dogs have no prejudices and do not judge people by their origin, appearance or special talents. No matter if your child brings home good grades or won the last place at the sports tournament: Your fur-nose will always greet it with the same joy and sincere love! The loyalty and value-free nature of the four-legged friend strengthens your child and has a positive effect on self-confidence.
- Family bonding: Dogs provide family peace and harmony. In addition, their loving nature promotes inner peace. Your four-legged friend instinctively tries to mediate between his pack members without taking sides in disputes. His impartial nature regularly shows you and your family that many disputes are idle and insignificant. In addition, regular walks with all family members and joint activities in the fresh air increase the feeling of balance and togetherness.
Our tip: If you want to know more about whether a dog fits your family, then take a look at our article "Getting a dog: 10 questions before buying a dog".
Family dogs: these breeds are especially suitable for children
Some dog breeds have been bred specifically to meet the needs of families. The breeds from the genus "family dogs" are mostly patient, gentle, friendly and sociable. However, dog breeds of other classifications are also well-suited for interacting with children due to characteristics such as courage, alertness and their protective instincts. Among the most popular breeds are for example:
- Golden Retriever: Loyal and loving
- Pug: Curious and affectionate
- Bichon Frisé: Willing to learn and cheerful
- English Bulldog: Friendly and docile
- Newfoundland: Prudent and considerate
- Collie: Agile and fond of children
- Labrador: Active and outgoing
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Peaceful and cuddly
- Corgi: Self-confident and lively
Of course, many other breeds and mixed breeds are suitable as family dogs. Before buying a dog, you should think carefully about which dog suits you, so that a harmonious life together is possible.
Bring dog and child together
The dog is man's best friend. In principle, this is true, because the four-legged friends have been bred over many years to be a loyal companion. However, especially the development of a deep bond and friendship with children depends on different factors. With our 4 rules for a harmonious friendship between dog and child you strengthen communication and understanding and prevent possible dog snapping accidents.
Harmony between dog and child: 4 rules of friendship
- Avoid loud noises: Children like to play and should develop in a child-friendly way. Nevertheless, loud screeching, extreme playing noises and music turned up full blast should be avoided in the dog's presence, because he might react to them in a panic, show fear or, in the worst case, hurt himself. Some dogs relieve stress in this way.
- Understand warning signs: Dogs communicate through clear body language. The ears, the tail and the muzzle are the most important factors. Does your dog tense his muscles, is his posture defensive or offensive? The interaction of all parts is decisive. Teach your child the important signals so that it interprets them correctly from the beginning.
- Preventing excessive demands: Your dog needs rest periods. He will probably retreat to his dog bed or another preferred sleeping place. This area is off-limits for your child, because while dozing and sleeping, your little pelt-nose recharges its batteries and processes the events of the day so far.
- Promote understanding: Not everything that humans like is true for dogs. Hugs, for example, may give your dog a sense of distress. If he allows you to hug him, this does not necessarily apply to your child, and he may react by threatening you or, in the worst case, biting you. Therefore, explain to your child a few rules of conduct in dealing with your four-legged friend.
Dog and baby: How to make a successful start together
Even during your pregnancy, your four-legged friend will notice changes and upcoming life adjustments. So that the new situation does not overwhelm him and a harmonious coexistence between your furry nose and the offspring is made possible from the beginning, we give 5 tips to prepare your dog for the baby:
- Vary the daily rhythm: Move the walks to different times so that your dog can get out of his usual routine. Then the change is not too big when the baby is there and the daily rhythm is suddenly completely different.
- Dog free zone: Train your four-legged friend that the baby's room is a dog-free zone.
- “Baby carriage training”: Go for regular walks with the empty stroller. This way, your pet will get used to the possibly slower pace and learn to walk relaxed next to the stroller.
- Set up dog place: Set up a place for your furbaby that will serve as a cozy retreat and quiet zone. This should be a quiet place that your baby can't reach.
- Habituation: Immediately before your baby moves in, bring an accessory such as a burp cloth or worn bodysuit from the hospital to help your dog get used to the new smell.
Attention: Despite meticulous preparation for living with a dog and baby, it is advisable to never leave your child alone with the four-legged friend. Even peaceful dogs can cause injuries to small children through unintentional force, such as playful pawing or encouraging, friendly nudging with the nose.
The right age of child and dog
In general, according to the Animal Welfare Act, children under the age of 16 are not allowed to be solely responsible for a dog. As a parent, you therefore take on the main responsibility for the furbaby. Would you like to involve your child in the care of your dog, for example, support you with feeding and accompany you on walks? Then consider the following aspects before acquiring a four-legged friend:
- Dog size and weight: Some breeds far outnumber toddlers because of their height or weight. In the worst case, this can lead to unintentional accidents or injuries. If you are inexperienced in dog ownership, choose a dog that is appropriate for your child's age and growth.
- Age of the dog: Puppies demand special attention and require a lot of training, starting with housetraining and simple basic commands. With a baby or toddler in the family, you may not be able to meet a puppy's many needs. A young dog or adult quadruped is usually already socialized and at best has mastered the most important commands
- Previous experience of the dog: Especially shelter dogs have already experienced a lot. Often the fates of individual fur noses are not known. Unthinking, unprejudiced behavior or skip actions by a young child may unsettle pre-experienced dogs and lead to undesirable reactions such as biting, running away, cowering. Before acquiring an adult dog from a shelter or foreign dog rescue, make sure your child understands the dog's history and handles the four-legged friend with appropriate thought and caution.
Conclusion: A deep friendship can develop between dogs and children that lasts a dog's lifetime. With our tips, you can lay the foundation for a good relationship between the family members and make your charges a true dream team. What are your experiences with dog and child: How did they get used to each other? Has a real friendship developed or are they only slightly interested in each other? We are curious to hear your stories!
Sources and more infos: American Association für the Advancement of Sience (AAAS) (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-09/ehs-doi092710.php) and American Academy of Pediatrics (https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/2/211?sid=5e49d3e4-af34-4a88-b9e4-8aa75bc0f6c7)