Dogs can make fantastic family pets, and are among the most popular animals chosen by parents when it comes to bringing a new friend home. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, some 24% of UK pet-owning households have chosen to adopt a dog, nestling them firmly in our hearts. There’s a chance you had a dog as a child, and have been looking to replicate that relationship for your own children; perhaps you’ve always wanted a dog and would like to teach your children about compassion and responsibility. Whatever your reason for deciding to get a dog, there are a few things you’re going to need to think about first – starting with the breed that will best suit your family life.
Choosing to bring a dog home
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to bringing a dog home. How will your children be able to help with its care? Where will your new dog spend its time? Will you sign up for puppy classes, or undertake the dog’s training yourself? In addition to the big decisions are the smaller, but similarly important, considerations that must be made prior to bringing a dog home, including diet, healthcare and general upkeep. To help you prepare, create a checklist of all the things you’ll need to buy, including a bowl, a collar and lead, a bed, toys and grooming products, and research local veterinary surgeries. Your new pet is going to need a health check as soon as possible, as well as vaccinations if you’re rehoming a puppy. Dog anxiety relief, which will help a nervous puppy or older dog to settle quickly around your children, must also be considered.
The ideal breeds for your family
Whether you’re planning on choosing a puppy from a breeder, or an older dog from a shelter, it’s worth approaching the selection process with some idea of the kind of dog you’d like; will you choose a larger breed or a toy dog? Do you want a breed that you’re familiar with already, or is dog ownership a completely new concept to you? There’s a chance that you and your children already have some idea of the dog you’d like, but if you’re still spoiled for choice, here are a few of the most renowned family-friendly breeds.
Labrador or Golden Retriever
Loyal, intelligent and placid, with a cheeky side, Labradors and Golden Retrievers make excellent family pets; with their soft fur, patience around children, and playful nature, both breeds make more than acceptable family pets – just think of the Andrex puppy, and you’ll know why so many homes choose these loveable pups. As relatively large breeds, they may not suit some family homes, and they do tend to need more exercise than many can give.
There are several different types of spaniel, and each has something to offer a family with children. English Cocker Spaniels, for example, are filled with energy and fun, while English and Welsh Springer Spaniels are equally blessed when it comes to stamina. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never be bored with a spaniel in tow. The spaniel has something of a reputation for being great with children, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are particularly sweet-natured
Intelligent and friendly, with a playful side that seeks companionship, Beagles are increasingly popular family pets. Their practical size suits most family homes, while it’s in their nature to be incredibly loving and gentle around children. Beagles are typically shorthaired, which will save parents plenty of time when it comes to grooming, and their boundless energy is well-matched to the boisterous nature of children, who will no doubt love to head into the garden on a regular basis. Be mindful; beagles are hounds, and do enjoy wandering off on occasion.
Let’s not forget mixed breed pups for a moment. Some may call them mongrels, but there are so many wonderful dogs out there that bring a variety of characteristics and temperaments to the table thanks to the crossbreeding of their parents – whether this was on purpose or by accident. Mixed breed dogs are unique, after all. What’s more, mixed breed pups are usually far less afflicted by the birth defects that can be inherent in their pedigree cousins, leaving busy families with far less to worry about.
There are numerous breeds that adore family life; this post reflects just a fraction of the pups that you and your household could choose from.
While it is perfectly possible to identify a selection of dog breeds that enjoy living alongside children in a family environment, it’s essential to remember that all dogs need a little space sometimes, and that even the cutest or bounciest of dogs must be watched when they’re around your little ones. Please don’t ever be tempted to leave your children unsupervised with a new dog, regardless of how friendly they may be when you’re all playing together.
Above all, accept that dog ownership is a huge responsibility; make sure that your family is ready for the challenges ahead before you make such a commitment. That said, dog ownership is also incredibly rewarding, and you and your family will no doubt revel in the fun that your new pooch brings – nothing will quite compare to the companionship of a dog, so embrace every moment.