June 1st is International Children’s Day! Modern fur families are a hodgepodge of cats, dogs, kids and everything in between. The key to a safe, healthy family environment is ensuring everyone can get along. Before bringing home a pet, it’s important to consider the existing family dynamic – how will a new addition change the home environment?
While there’s no one best dog for kids, different dog breeds have varying energy levels and personality traits that may not be compatible with all children. Kids, especially toddlers and elementary-aged children, are typically noisy and rambunctious; some pets prefer peace and quiet, while others are only too happy to join in on activities.
Do careful research and contemplation before adding to your fur family, but keep in mind that a dog’s breed is not representative of its personality and is just a framework of general characteristics. If you’re set on adopting a specific dog breed, check out breed-specific rescues, where many unwanted purebred pets end up. The person most knowledgeable of a pet’s personality will be your adoption counselor and volunteers at the shelter; don’t be afraid to ask questions about your potential pup’s energy level and temperament!
This dog breed is noted for its love of social contact and kid-friendly temperament. “One of the breeds most notable characteristics is its desire for human affection, especially from children,” says the American Kennel Club. Boxers appreciate playtime with kids, but aren’t so rambunctious as to cause unintentional harm.
Engage your Boxer in supervised play with children, a two-for-one that allows both kids and dog to wear themselves out. The breed’s high energy level requires plenty of exercise; have older children take responsibility for walking your pup, while younger ones can toss a Frisbee or tennis ball.
2. Golden Retriever
One of the most popular dog breeds in the country, the Golden Retriever is a patient, loyal pet adaptable to a variety of home environments. A family favorite, Golden Retrievers are devoted dogs – the breed has made headlines recently for its heroics, including a face-off with a moose – described as “versatile” and “cheerful” by the Golden Retriever Club of America. The breed is also commonly used as guide dogs for the blind due to its high intelligence and adaptability.
A sporting dog breed, Golden Retrievers require regular exercise; a (supervised) backyard romp with the kids is just the thing to tire a pup out. To engage your pet’s brain, too, invest in puzzle toys for dogs – bound to entertain both pets and kids.
While this breed’s inclusion might surprise you, Bulldogs are an adaptable breed sturdy enough to withstand rambunctious young ‘uns. Approved by both the American Kennel Club and “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Milan, the bulldog’s low-key disposition is legendary. Short legs and a flat face disqualify the bulldog from winning any races, but regular walks are required, as with any dog breed.
American, English and French bulldogs all exhibit the breed’s calm personality and distaste for physical activity. “He does not make a good dog for the obedience enthusiast,” notes New York Bully Crew, a Long Island breed-specific rescue. “The breed prefers not to exercise, can easily overheat, and is prone to drooling and snoring.”
Not a dog for lovers of quiet, life will never be boring with a Beagle around! Look no further than Charlie Brown and Snoopy for proof of the breed’s loyalty and easy bond with kids. Curious to a fault, Beagles originated as rabbit-sniffing scent hounds, so keep all doggie dangers out of paws’ reach. The average Beagle has a medium activity level, requiring plenty of play and regular walks.
Beagles love to be part of a pack and are constantly on the move, requiring daily mental stimulation. Kong toys, tennis balls, and rawhide chews are good distractions, as are playdates with the kids. An open, fenced yard is perfect for both kids and pets to get plenty of daily exercise and spend time outdoors.
Remember, the breed doesn’t make the dog – countless mixed-breed dogs, or mutts, are in shelters across the country. The most important thing to consider before adopting a dog is how he or she will fit into a family’s life and schedule. If children are older, who will feed and walk the pet, parents or kid? For active families juggling sports and extracurriculars, a high-energy breed of dog may not be the best choice. Some families may even find a cat is the perfect fit!
No matter your dog’s breed, daily exercise is important. A quick walk around the block can prevent pet obesity, as well as arthritis and hip dysplasia – it’ll even get you moving. Toss a Frisbee or tennis ball in the backyard for quick high-intensity exercise, or invest in a puzzle toy for mental stimulation. Teach kids the importance of exercise by using Fido as an example; exercise is a simple way to keep everyone healthy and happy.