Growing up, I always had a dog in my life. First, my cousin’s, a collie, was always following us kids around. Later, my parents owned, a ‘sausage’ dog, and I have fond memories of curling up on the sofa with him to watch TV.
Fast forward to when my daughter was 2 years old, which is when we got a golden retriever puppy. Oh My! that was a lot of work dealing with 2 toddlers. But worth it in the end as my daughter, an only child, had a ‘sibling’ she could play with and confide in.
Are dogs good for kids? You bet they are. Although a kid’s age should be consider before getting a dog. Let’s find out why a dog is a child’s best friend.
What age should a child get a dog?
Five years and older would be the ideal age for a child to get a dog.
If a child is younger, they won’t understand how to respect the dog. You can’t really reason with a toddler. The child can’t comprehend why he can’t take the dog’s food or toys away.
A puppy or young dog let’s say under 2, will need training, lots of attention, exercise, which is almost the same a toddler requires.
Picture me pushing the stroller and holding on to the leash of this very excited puppy pulling my arm almost out of the socket! My neighbors must have had a few laughs watching me.
Many reasons a child will benefit from a dog in his life
A child with a dog will likely feel less anxious with a constant companion by his side. Cuddling with a dog can lower the stress hormone cortisol, not only for children but adults as well. A dog will sense when you’re sad or stressed and will offer comfort just by putting their head on your lap.
A dog can help a child cope with emotions to follow a traumatic experience. It doesn’t judge and it loves its human unconditionally and a dog’s purpose is to take care of you. A dog provides emotional support and offers some kind of magic healing.
A dog is a great confidant for a child, since he can’t tell the child’s secrets or fears to anyone. A child would not be afraid to share personal and private things with his dog.
Having the child involved in dog training classes and maybe agility classes will help with self-esteem. Both will benefit and be proud of their accomplishments.
Yes having a dog can help a child learn about responsibilities, such as feeding and walking him. But parents should not expect that children will take care of one by themselves. They’ll need help and guidance.
Letting a child pet a dog gently and continuously has a calming effect and help with emotions that are too much to deal with. Not just for children, adults will experience the same peacefulness when petting their dog and before they know it, they will feel better. Just the act of petting a dog lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
Kids tend to want to read a book to their dog, who is a captive audience. The child might also want to find out about their dog’s breed, temperament, how to feed and take care of it. It would be a great opportunity to use that info as a “show and tell” in class.
Walking, running and playing with a dog is a great way to get rid of excess energy. And it’s fun for both.
A dog is always happy to see you. The interaction between a child and his dog can also help with a positive attitude. Imagine a child getting off the school bus and there is this furry ball so darn happy running to greet him home. Priceless!
Nowadays, children definitely play less outside as we used to in the old days and are more on their digital device. When a dog is part of the family, it will need exercise. Having a dog will encourage a child to go play outside and run or walk with the dog.
Is a dog good for an only child?
Speaking from experience, I can say for sure that my daughter benefited from having our Golden Retriever around.
Our dog became her instant friend that she could play with, talk to, play hide and seek with. My daughter would use different voices to have our dog and all her stuffed animals interact with each other. It was quite cute to watch her play with her furry entourage.
And an only child having a dog to help care for, feed, walk, groom is the best way to learn sharing, selflessness, empathy and that the child isn’t the center of the universe.
What kind of dog should you get for your kid?
That’s a tricky question. It depends on a few factors but one thing for sure, there is no perfect dog! There are so many breeds and mixed breeds available. It’s really hard to predict which one would be the best dog for your child and your family.
Ask yourself these questions before going out and buying or adopting a dog.
Do you have more than one child? If so, is everyone onboard with this new addition. How old are the children? Does everyone agree to help caring for the dog?
Are you an active outdoorsy family? Are you campers, hikers, adventurers? If so, do you plan on taking the dog with you? If not, who will babysit the dog? If you travel a lot and don’t intend to include the dog in your activities, then at this stage of your life a dog might not be a good idea.
Your living arrangements
Do you live in a house? Do you have a fenced backyard? The best scenario if you intend to get an active and big dog.
Do you live in an apartment? You’ll need to find a breed and size of dog which would be suitable or even permitted in a condo or apartment.
If you intend to get a puppy, you’ll need to budget for neutering/spaying and vaccinations, obedience training. Other expenses are food, accessories (leash, collar, bed) and babysitting when needed and more.
Is anyone allergic to dogs? If so, you’ll be looking for an hypoallergenic breed to prevent any reactions.
Popular breeds for kids and families
Here’s a short overview of popular dog breeds to further research when looking for a furry addition to your family.
Also consider adopting a mixed breed from shelters, as these mutts can be a great match as well. You should also check breed specific rescue organizations if you have one in mind, such as golden retriever rescue or labrador rescue.
If you have a large family you might want to stick with a breed that can take roughhousing. Kids can be rough and the likes of Chihuahuas, Yorkies or very small dog you could pick up with one hand would not be suitable.
Sweet, loving and gentle dogs
Golden Retriever, medium-large size
Bernese Mountain Dog, large size
Collie, large size
Energetic – Active dogs
Labrador, medium-large size
Golden Retriever, medium-large size
Irish Setter, large size
Miniature Schnauzer, small
Bull Terrier, small size
Boston Terrier, small size, good for apartment living
French Bulldog, small size, good for apartment living
Bulldog, small size, good with a small apartment or a large house
Bichon Frise, small and good for cozy living quarters
Poodles, only the standard is good for families
Miniature Schnauzer, small
Maltese, very small and a lap dog
Lhasa Apso, small size
The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic.
–Henry Ward, Naturalist