How do I know if a dog is going to be good with children?

Whether or not a dog, or a particular breed of dog, will be good with children is a question dog breeders and people who work with dogs come across on a regular basis.

Any individual dog, or breed of dog, can be good with children if raised properly around children in the same way that any dog can be bad with children if they are not properly socialised or raised with children in the wrong way.  The responsibility lies with the owner.

Each breed was bred for a particular purpose and there are some aspects of a breed that may contradict behaving and interacting well with children.  An example often quoted is herding breeds – these were bred for their herding ability and as such they will attempt to herd almost anything, including children!  A natural way to herd is to nip gently and this can be alarming for children.  Similarly, a guard dog may not realise that a visiting child playing roughly with ‘his’ child is not a threat and so precautions must be taken.  In the same way, dogs can be hurt by children during rough play antics or being careless and likewise, precautions should be taken.

If you have children, consider a few things being introducing a dog into the household:

  • Dogs will add to the activity level of the home.  When children play or dogs play, either can become excitable leaving to jumping on each other, playing rough and being noisy so consider whether you want a more active breed of dog or a more inactive, docile breed and choose a puppy appropriately
  • Obedient and playful dogs make excellent companions for children and pets are shown to reduce stress levels and show children how to care and share.  It takes time to help a dog learn to be obedient and you will need to take time out to train the dog properly
  • Children should not be left to walk a dog on their own or expected to take care of the dog.  Dogs will, and should, add to a parent’s responsibility so be sure you  have enough time and want a dog for yourself too

The answer to the question is the same as asking if a child will be good with a dog.  It depends partly upon genetics, but mostly upon time and attention from his owner.