It happens to me at least once every few weeks and it’s always the same. I’ll be doing a session with a family and they’ll ask the question that’s on every Mom’s and Dad’s mind: what’s the best kind of dog to get for children?
Parents who want to bring a dog into the family dynamic are understandably concerned about the safety and well-being of their kids. The problem with all these parents is that they ask me, the supposed expert, for advice but are rarely satisfied with my answer – and always refuse to believe me.
What they want me to say is that the little designer dog they just dropped a few grand for is the ideal canine to let their kids be kids around. And by that I mean, let their kids do all kinds of inappropriate things to this poor little puppy. Everything from stepping on the dog’s tail, to holding him upside down like a baby, to all out tackling him.
These parents chose their little fur ball because he looked so cute and they couldn’t possible imagine such a cute face ever sinking his teeth into one of the family. They can’t imagine it but quite often that’s exactly what happens and I’ve got news for you, it’s never the dog’s fault.
Most dogs that end up getting nasty with children have every right to want their personal space back because it’s the kids that are pushing all the dog’s buttons. It’s not the kids fault either – they just want to play and love the pup. The problem is that most dogs are not cut out for the rough handling and crazy energy of a hyper little boy or girl.
So, we get back to the big question: what is the best breed of dog for children?
I’m always very eager and happy to share the answer to this parental conundrum, even though I know that few are prepared for the answer, which is. . . . the Pit Bull.
Pause for gasp . . .
Oh yeah, I said it – the P-word.
Pit Bulls Are Usually The Best With Kids
I know your head is probably shaking back and forth in disbelief but I assure you I tell no lie. Pit Bulls top the chart of being the pooch to let your kids around. The reason is obvious – Pits were bred to take abuse.
Take a look at any Pit Bull and you’ll notice that they are built like furry tanks. Have you ever tried to kick a tank? If so, did you dent it? I doubt it. There’s very little a child can do to a Pit Bull that will really cause it any harm. Combine their rugged exterior with their gentle temperament and you get “the nanny dog,” which is what Pit Bulls were called back before they were seen as fighting dogs.
They got this less than butch name because of they way they would always keep and eye on the children (I can tell you lots of stories of how my Pit Bull Hayley would watch my kids). How’s that for a great resume?
I’ve watched my two girls climb on top of my dog, hit her with toys and yank every part of her body and Hayley has taken it like with a tolerance I surely don’t have. Try doing that with a Dachshund or a Chihuahua (statistically the biggest biters of all dog breeds). Now just because the dogs usually don’t mind all that evasive physical contact doesn’t mean you should let your kids do it. In fact, I HIGHLY recommend you don’t. Kids need to be respectful of dogs and understand that not every dog will tolerate it.
My dog is amazing with my kids and I often find her following my girls around and often keeping watch nearby when they are sleeping.
Now I’m not saying that every Pit Bull is a perfect match with kids or that every little pooch is going to bite junior. Not at all. Every dog is as good as you train him. I’m just saying that out of the box Pit Bulls are better physically and psychologically set up to do well with children. Labs also do real well because they were bred to charge into thick brush and jump into freezing water to retrieve a dead bird. They can also take some abuse.
Everyone seems to know that labs make good family pets, however due to the sensationalized media, Pit Bulls get mistakenly cast as the villain. So get over the stereotype and open your mind to what all the experts in the canine industry (which, for your information, does not include the media) have been saying for years. Pit Bulls are one of the best dog with kids.
In part 2 I’ll go over how to set things up so that your kids and your dog do well together, whatever breed of dog you have. See you there.