Getting a dog is an exciting event for any family, but when kids are in the mix, it's understandable that you might be a little nervous about picking the right one. That's why we've collected some expert advice on how to pick the right breed for your particular household. Nina Houghton has been a professional dog trainer for over a decade. She is the owner of Alpha Dog Training Company in Vancouver, where she specializes in using positive and friendly training techniques to help improve dogs' behaviours. So she knows a great deal about the qualities of different breeds and how you can decide which breed of dog is best for you.
Have you had your eye on a certain breed but heard it might not be good with kids? Don't cross it off the list just yet! Nina explains that just about any dog can be family friendly, so long as they are properly trained and socialized from a young age. She elaborates that, "No breed can be declared unsuitable for a family with children. Nor can a breed be unconditionally recommended." That said, however, she does recommend taking a few characteristics into consideration when selecting the right breed for you.
The first quality to take into consideration is a dog's temperament. Nina advises that a shy or timid dog won't do well in a house with children and could in fact end up becoming aggressive down the road. At the other end of the spectrum, dominant dogs won't respect children and will see them as lesser entities than themselves. So your best bet is to choose a dog that lies somewhere in the middle.
The next matter to consider is the instinct of the dog you're thinking of adopting. Nina recommends doing a little research on a particular breed's history to get a sense of where the dogs' instincts lie. She explains, "Most dogs were bred to perform a specific task, and therefore that instinct is hardwired into the DNA of the dog. As an example, a herding dog can sometimes be misinterpreted as aggressive because they can nip at children. This is purely instinct, as it's how they move their herd around and keep charge." Fortunately, however, Nina advises that this behaviour can be modified and improved with training, so there's no need to rule out a breed too quickly.
Although dogs can have particular traits based on their breed and DNA, a lot of their qualities can be developed through proper training and socialization. Nina advises new owners to commit to providing the dog with proper training that will help establish boundaries with all family members right from the start. She also encourages helping young dogs socialize so they get used to being around people. Supervising your new pooch when the kids are around is very important, as is teaching little ones how to correctly handle a dog. And although kids may want to play with their new puppy all the time, make sure you let him rest on his own every once in a while. This will help cultivate a peaceful and happy household.
Although Nina believes proper training and socialization are key for any dog no matter the breed, she shares 10 breeds she feels are good options for families to consider.
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