Many families have both dogs and children. Some people feel it is best to have really large dogs with small children – big dogs are less likely to be hurt by being stepped on by small children and they are a whole lot harder to pick up and thus drop.
Some breeds are also known for being very patient with children.
Herding dogs will often transfer their instinct to protectively watch over a flock to watching over children.
Retrieving breeds also seem to often have an affinity for children.
It is important to remember that if excited virtually any kind of dog can knock a small child over, particularly if the child is still learning to walk. For this reason, some large bread rescues will not adopt their dogs out to families with very small children.
It is important to teach both children and dogs how to be respectful of each other.
Children can learn to start handling dogs as soon as they are old enough to understand how to hold a leash and walk…if the dog they are handling already knows how to walk politely on a leash. Or slightly older children can be taught alongside a dog how dog handling works – junior dog handlers are allowed to show dogs.
Family companions are just one of the roles that children can share with dogs.
A number of reading programs have developed around the concept that children who have trouble reading, and have trouble reading to adults, can read more successfully and comfortably when reading to a dog.
All kinds of dogs can be successful therapy dogs for children in reading programs. The most important feature for a dog in a reading program is being a patient listener.
Dogs also serve in emotional and physical therapy roles with children.
Children with emotional disabilities can often be calmed by the presence of a dog.
Therapy dogs visiting hospitals are also very comforting for children and help provide emotional support during long, difficult, and often painful treatments.
Dogs also provide physical support for disabled children. For example a dog can be trained to balance a child’s weight if the child has challenges with stability; they can pick things up that their handler drops on the ground; they can carry packs; turn lights on and off; open doors and more.
And of course there is the entertainment value for a family that has both children and dogs. What’s more fun than dressing your dog up?
Dressing your child up to look like your dog!
Finally, if you enjoy dogs and you enjoy children, then watching them interact is a great way to fill a space in your soul that can be filled by nothing else.
While children and dogs should be supervised, when they forget the supervisors are in the room or nearby, you get some pretty memorable interactions.
Really, there isn’t much that is more smile worthy than a child and a dog making that special connection.