Welcoming a dog into your family can be a wonderful experience, especially for your children. Not only are dogs a source of unconditional love, but they can help teach responsibility, compassion, patience, and boundaries.
When choosing a dog for your family, it is important to consider your family’s lifestyle. While dogs are in general excellent additions to your home, some breeds tend to be more family-friendly than others. What factors should you take into account when deciding which breed to adopt? Which dog breeds are best for families with kids?
Why get a family dog?
Family pets can bring a lot of joy and love to a household. Pet ownership also teaches children valuable life skills like responsibility, trust, compassion, respect, and patience, notes early childhood specialist Tracy Trautner from Michigan State University. While kids can be excellent playmates for high-energy dogs, having a dog in the house gives kids first-hand experience with interacting safely and respectfully with animals.
The domesticated dogs we know today have evolved over thousands of years. According to expert Mark Derr, humans quickly figured out that wolves served as good hunters, while wolves soon learned to take advantage of food scraps humans left behind. They each recognized that teaming up was in their best interest, and wolves evolved to become more docile, eager-to-please partners to their people.
The companionship and love that dogs offer humans is why we love them so much. And they seem to understand us better than any other animal. Research has found that when we gaze lovingly into our dogs’ eyes, they both understand and return the affection. Dogs and humans both release oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, when they look into each other’s eyes. But they can sense more than just affection—dogs are empathetic and can pick up on our feelings, which can make dog-child bonds even more meaningful.
Considerations for adopting a family dog
When considering getting a dog for your family and kids, there are some important factors to keep in mind. You want a good fit for your dog and your family, so it is important to be realistic about your expectations and lifestyle to set your new dog up for success.
Busy families may not be prepared for a dog who requires extensive grooming, has serious health concerns, or needs significant training. If your kids want a ready-for-anything playmate or if toddlers need a gentle and patient companion, some breeds may be a better fit than others.
Temperament can also play a significant role in how well-suited a specific dog or breed may be for families. Easy-going dogs tend to do best with hectic households and ever-changing routines of families, Aggressive or stressed dogs can be very challenging and require intense training and attention, not to mention pose a potential risk to little kids.