Many children beg their parents for an adorable, cuddly puppy that they have seen on television or surfing the Internet. However, adopting a dog or puppy involves a lot more than simply purchasing the necessary "accessories" like food and water dishes, toys, a leash and collar. A dog is not just another toy to be put back into the crate when the kids are done playing with it. Here are some important considerations before bringing home a puppy or dog to become a part of your family.
Toddlers and Young Children
If you have children under the age of five, then a patient, gentle adult dog is usually the best choice for your family. Puppies may be adorable but they can be as much work as another young child. A mother who is already caring for one or more young children does not need another young creature who needs to be potty-trained, leash-trained, socialized with strangers, and constantly supervised to make sure it is not chewing or eating anything inappropriate.
A more sensible choice for a family with young children is a gentle, patient, medium to large dog who is already housetrained and knows how to play appropriately with your children. Small dogs are not a good choice for young children because they are more likely to snap and can easily be hurt by a child hugging too tightly.
Elementary Age Children
At this age, your child can be involved in the adoption process. While the adults should have the final decision, elementary age children enjoy looking over pictures of adoptable dogs and puppies. If this will be your first dog, bring your family to an adoption event at a local PetSmart or Petco so your children can have the opportunity to meet different kinds of friendly dogs.
Children love to be given important responsibilities. Take the time to explain to your children before the new dog comes home about all the different tasks involved in taking care of the new dog: putting out clean water and food, picking up poop in the backyard, going for walks, play time, grooming, bathing, and cleaning up accidents in the house. It is not fair or realistic to expect your child to do all of these tasks on his or her own, so decide which chores your child will be responsible for and which chores other family members will handle.
A Lifetime Decision
It is important to keep in mind that the puppy or dog that you bring home now to be a companion and playmate for your children will be a member of your family for the rest of its life. Medium to large dogs typically live 10 to 12 years. Smaller dogs can live 12 to 15 years. Throughout the course of your dog's life, both your dog and your child will go through many life stages. The little girl who is inseparable from her cuddly puppy will eventually grow up into a teenager who is more concerned with boyfriends, school activities and going out with friends. The little boy who faithfully feeds and walks his dog now will eventually become a teenage boy who is busy with sports, clubs and other social activities. This is why it is important to choose a dog that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Finding Dogs that Love Children
Most dogs have one of three reactions to children: wariness, obliviousness, or delight. A wary dog will pull away from children with obvious fear and may whimper, shake, or even snap if forced to remain in close proximity to a child. Dogs who have had a bad experience in the past with children are not a good choice. Other dogs seem to have no understanding that there is a difference between a child and an adult. Oblivious dogs can be a hazard because they are likely to jump up on a child, not realizing that the child will fall down. However, dogs in the third category seem to have a natural instinct for understanding that children are baby humans and must be treated more gently and approached more slowly.
To find these kinds of dogs, look for descriptions on a dog's profile that mention phrases like "great with small children" or "loves children". A dog who has previously lived with children is an excellent choice because he will know what to expect. A well-socialized deaf dog can be a great choice for children because it will not be disturbed by children's shouts or cries. The attached profile list showcases some adoptable dogs in the Nashville area who are especially good with children.
Local Adoption Events
Bringing your children to an animal control facility to look at dogs can be an overwhelming and even frightening experience with all the barking dogs and the pitiful, hopeful looks from adoptable dogs. A wiser option is to visit your local PetSmart or Petco so your children can meet friendly, adoptable dogs in a more natural setting at the Adoption Day run by a local animal rescue. Here are some options in the Nashville area for Adoption Days where dogs and puppies are available:
Rivergate PetSmart - Every Saturday, 10 am to 3 pm, Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary
Hermitage Petco - 2nd and 4th Saturday 1 pm to 5:30 pm Kimber's Kritters
Hermitage Petco - 2nd and 4th Sunday 2 pm to 6 pm Kimber's Kritters
100 Oaks PetSmart - 4th Saturday 10 am to 2 pm Agape Animal Rescue
Bellevue Petco - Every Saturday, Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue
Cool Springs PetSmart - Every Other Saturday 10 am to 2 pm, Critter Cavalry Rescue
Adoptable Dogs in the Nashville Area
Attached to this article is a list of adoptable dogs of all sizes and breeds who are described as "great with children". Some are even good with babies and small children. All are being fostered in Nashville or within an hour's drive of Nashville. This article uses the new "list" feature, so click on the "View the List" link at the top or bottom of the article to view the pictures and profiles of these adoptable dogs. For information on how to adopt a dog, just click on the dog's name the first time it appears in the profile.