Introducing a dog or puppy into your home can be a wonderful idea. Children and adults alike love the companionship of animals. Depending on the age of your child and how extra time you have to spend with an animal, choosing the right pooch can be a stressful process. You want to make sure that the dog will not be aggressive toward your child and will not become defensive of your child’s rough play. There are a few things to take into account before searching for your new family member.

The first thing you should consider is whether you want a puppy or an adult dog. There are advantages and disadvantages to both ages. Puppies, older than eight weeks, can be a great addition to your family. In a sense, your child and your puppy will grow up together and learn things along the way. However, puppies are fragile and children can be aggressive. On the other hand, adult dogs are tougher. With help from an animal shelter or breeder, you can find an adult dog that has experience with children. Often, adult dogs are calmer and can handle the rough play of a child. The gender of the dog is another important factor. Spayed females are generally less aggressive than males.

Puppies and children: You’ve decided on a puppy. The next step is choosing the right sized dog. Animal specialists recommend staying away from small or toy-sized dogs. Small dogs can be easily hurt if handled in the wrong way and often overreact to noisy or frightening situations by snapping or biting.

If you are looking for a full-bred pup, then breeders can help you identify breeds that are more likely to get along well with children. If you are dealing with a breeder, try to find out as much information as you can about the parents. Is the mom aggressive? Was the dad aggressive? Just because a pup is of a certain breed, does not mean that she will have the personality traits associated with that breed. It’s not a good idea to go straight for the runt, no matter how cute she is. Runts have to fight with their brothers and sisters for food daily. Because of this, runts often exhibit aggressive behaviors.

Don’t rule out a mixed-bred pooch, either. Visit your local animal shelter before deciding what kind of dog to purchase. They can help you figure things out!

Now, and it’s time to bring the puppy home. It’s important that you never leave your child unsupervised with the pup. Although children have good intentions, they could seriously injury the dog by squeezing her or dropping her. Have your child sit down before allowing him or her to hold the puppy. Teach the child how to gently pet the dog, and discourage your child from screaming around the pup. Also, make sure that your child’s toys are easily distinguishable from your puppy’s toys. Never give a puppy old children’s toys, because the puppy won’t be able to tell the difference between her toys and your child’s.

Adult dogs and children: You’ve decided on an adult dog. Adult dogs are a good choice around children, because they require less attention than puppies. Whether you are getting the dog from a friend, breeder or animal shelter, inquire about the dog’s past. You need to make sure that the dog is gentle and has experience with children.

Even though an adult dog can be calmer, don’t assume that she doesn’t need proper introduction into her new home. Treat her as you would a pup, and let her get to know the territory. Once your dog is comfortable in the new setting, then you can work with her on playing with your child.

Children often try to hug dogs around their necks. Discourage this behavior from the beginning. Instead, have your child scratch underneath the dog’s chin and back. Never leave your child unsupervised with the dog. The dog is still adjusting to her new home and can be defensive in frightening situations.

Dogs and puppies can be wonderful companions for your children. Once adjusted, you won’t be able to separate the two. But, before you run down to the local pet store, consider the ups and downs of having a dog in your home. Depending on how much time you have and the age of your child, you may want to consider an adult dog over a puppy. Whichever you choose, both can be great additions to your family.

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