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Looking to adopt the best dog for your child, or do you already have a dog which is giving you cause for concern?
Just as you wouldn’t dream of buying a new car or moving into a new home without first doing your basic groundwork, so too should you not get a dog without first thinking it all the way through.
If, however, you’ve already have gone down that route, please don’t worry – there are a number of things you can do to ensure you have the very best dog for your child.
The very fact that you’re here – reading these pages – shows that you care enough to know the importance of getting the basics right in order to ensure your dog is the best dog for your child.
Not being absolutely certain that you have the best dog for your child is nothing short of a disaster waiting to happen.
The potential relationship between your child and your dog can be one of the most rewarding relationships in your child’s formative years.
Helping care for a dog will give your child a sense of responsibility and compassion. In return, a loving dog provides just the kind of unconditional positive affirmation every child needs.
This is what you can expect if you chose the best dog for your child. However, choose the wrong dog and this wonderful possibility could turn into an nasty nightmare.
We don’t want this to happen to you. We’ve had so much fun with our dogs that we’d like the same for you and your family too!
Our Dogs – Self-Appointed Guardians of our Children
Our dogs always considered themselves the family guardians – and there was a definite pecking order, with the youngest in the family getting the most protection! It could be so amusing to watch our dogs desperately trying to protect our children – even when our children were completely intent on escaping these attentions!
We were blessed with this wonderful dynamic between animal and children as our little lot grew up protected and cherished by our various dogs. The best dog for your child is a truely rewarding relationship waiting to happen!
We did have the occasional hiccup – and one in particular is discussed here so you can benefit from our experience and realise just how important it is that you get your sums right and get the best dog for your child!
However, our success didn’t happen by chance – it was a relationship we gently, yet firmly encouraged in the right direction and nurtured on an ongoing basis.
But it all started waaaaay in the past. What do I mean? Well let me list the points we always took into consideration, just as you should do when choosing the best dog for your child, in their order of importance -
Getting the Basics Right
Education & Information – The more you know, the more in control you will be when choosing the best dog for your child.
All of these really will round out your knowledge and help you avoid the pitfalls which could so easily bring danger to your child. It is essential you choose the best dog for your child – these free articles will help you do just that.
Discovering What Makes a Dog Safe?
The first quality to look for when choosing the best dog for your child is sound temperament. And the easiest way to ensure this is through good breeding. A dog’s temperament is determined primarily by its genetic makeup, then the things it experiences in it’s life and lastly a dog can be modified and moulded through proper training.
For examply, German Shepherds make good police dogs and Labradors have been used for years as guide dogs for the visually impaired. This has been made possible through selective breeding, where a group of traits have been emphasized in order to fulfill a particular requirement.
Similarly, there are breeds which are good for children, and there are breeds which are definately not. In fact, you will find bloodlines within breeds which are more geared towards one aspect or another.
For example, when we chose our dog Cassie, we were particularly looking for a breeder who concentrated on temperament. We could have gone for agility capabilities, guarding tendancies or a show dog.
Fortunately, the breeder that was recommended to us, specialised in ensuring her bloodline was the very best not only in temperament, but also in agility, intelligence and health.
There are some dogs, just like there are some humans, that are mentally disturbed or have an illness or physical defect that affects their behaviour. No amount of training will change these poor animals for the better.
Therefore, if your top priority is to get the best dog for your child, choosing carefully at this stage will make life soooo much easier for you in the long run.
It is always wiser, if choosing a puppy, to choose one from a reputable breeder. This is because the breeder would not only have screened your puppy for various health issues, but with the right training and socialization, you could almost guarantee the kind of dog you would end up with, because a good breeder will ensure his bloodlines carry only the best qualities of that particular breed.
Getting a puppy from an un-known background leaves you open to all sorts of problems because not only do you not know of any possible inherited health issues, but you have no way of knowing that puppy’s genetically pre-determined temperament. The risk of this cute little bundle not being the best dog for your child is unacceptably high.
However, getting an older, mature mixed-breed dog from a reputable source such as a good Shelter is no problem at all, as the dog’s temperament will already be known to the staff, they will be happy to match you up with exactly the right dog for you and you can be sure you bring home the best dog for your child. However, if you already have a dog, the chances are you are reading this page because you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour and your child’s safety.
Don’t Over-React – But Do Be Vigilant…
First off, I must say that every dog bite is not necessarily something that should ring alarm bells. I know this sounds strange – but bear with me……. The circumstances of the incident must be taken into consideration.
For example, I have a great big scar on my upper arm where one of our German Shepherd’s teeth ripped through my flesh. I was a child, my dog and I were playing ball and we both jumped for the same ball. I got the ball and my dog got my arm! It was a total accident. That dog had never injured anyone before that – and did not for the rest of his life.
It was just the combination of very big dog and very small, and boisterous child! Had I been playing with another child I would probably have been knocked over or got an elbow in the eye, but a dog has teeth – not hands – and teeth make quite an impression on a child’s arm!
(By the way, we have repeatedly had painful whacks across the backs of our legs by nothing more than a very large – and happy tail – not to mention the clearing of several coffee tables in one huge wag, too!)
Though you do need to take these possible dangers into account when choosing the best dog for your child, in the above circumstances, nothing more is required than a good telling off to both child and dog for playing so roughly.
Send the dog off to sit quietly in a corner – she will know she has done something wrong.
If you are comfortable with it, practise your first aid skills on your child – or, for peace of mind it may be better to take your child to a medical centre, making very certain to explain the accidental nature of your child’s injury.
Another scenario could be where the dog is pushed beyond its tolerance threshold. Do not let children push their luck! This is discussed in more detail in due course as an important step to eliminate the possibility of a dog attack.
If, however, there are any signs of instability or aggression – you are faced with a stark choice. In this case you have to take serious steps to alter your dog’s behaviour and in the mean while do not allow him around young children.
This may, however, be a disaster waiting to happen and it may be best to re-home him with a family with older children or preferably no children at all.
The choice depends on your level of dog handling skills and the resources you can tap in to, to help him through his problems.
Our Brush With Disaster
We faced this situation with one dog – and it broke our hearts.
Ben was a beautiful young German Shepherd cross. He had been bought by people we knew as a guard dog and had been shut in a tiny portion of their garage all day, every day, since he was a puppy. One naked light bulb burned night and day. They let him out at night to guard their home – but then became increasingly frightened by his aggressive behaviour.
Poor Ben had EVERYTHING stacked against him. His breeding was unknown, therefore his temperament was already suspect, he hadn’t been socialized at all and he had been kept in solitary confinement for long periods of time – this tends to have a personality warping effect on many dogs, specially the working, guarding type. Always beware of a dog which has been kept tied up for long periods of time – they very rarely make a safe dog for your child.
Every fibre of my being told me not to take this dog on – but we are dog lovers and not helping Ben was unthinkable. So we took him over and went through months of re-training and socializing.
Initially he seemed to adjust well, and as with most German Shepherds – specially the males – he sought to bond with one person. He chose me – which would have been fine, if he hadn’t decided that my children couldn’t come near me! We tried everything to deal with this situation.
Then one evening I sat comfortably watching TV, with Ben asleep at my feet as usual. My son – only a toddler at the time – came over to climb into my lap. I still don’t know what happened, because it all happened so fast – but the next thing I knew was that my little boy was flat on his back, Ben was standing over him with his huge jaws pinning my son’s face to the floor. The eerie thing was – there wasn’t – and hadn’t been a single sound.
I calmly (!) got up, walked away from the scene and called to Ben to follow me. He came to me without any hesitation. I gently led him out the room and locked the door on him before he realised what I was doing.
That’s when the shock set in. I was shaking like a leaf as I scooped my son off the floor and held him close. My son was not hurt and because I had been so calm he doesn’t even remember the situation today.
I just dread to think what could possibly have happened had my little boy struggled – thankfully he’d been too shocked to do anything. I dread to think what may have happened had I panicked – and I’m just so grateful things turned out the way they did.
Early the next morning, my husband (who had missed the whole drama!) and myself took Ben down to a re-homing shelter. We had no other choice – it was one of the saddest journies we have ever had to make. We told the Shelter exactly what had happened.
We kept in touch with the shelter and eventually Ben was re-homed with a mature couple, a farmer and his wife who had just recently lost their old German Shepherd.
They knew exactly what they were taking on – and they were experienced dog handlers. Ben had tons of space to run around in – never again came in contact with children and lived happily ever after!
This situation ended with no real damage done – however, when I think how much worse it could possibly have been, I still feel quite sick inside.
I said no scare tactics and that is still the case – however, I would not be doing you and your child a justice, nor would I be helping you choose a safe dog for your child if I papered over the cracks.
The simple fact of the matter was that poor Ben had everything stacked against him. We could probably have nurtured and trained him past most of his problems. However, it was the combination of ALL of Ben’s problems put together that proved too much to overcome.
It would be the understatement of the year to say a dog with Ben’s problems certainly would not make the best dog for your child!