It’s a picturesque scene: a child and their dog, growing up together and forming a lifelong bond. It’s a great experience for children and families alike, but this experience isn’t right for everyone. Best Bully Sticks knows that thoughtful and dog-loving parents want to give their children a four-legged companion to excite and enrich childhood, but as parents, you’ll want to consider carefully how brining a puppy into your child’s life will affect your entire family. Today BBS will guide you through some considerations for choosing the right dog for your children.

Lifestyle & Environment
The first aspect to start considering is your day-to-day life and schedule as well as your environment. Do you live in a rural area where your kids stay at home? Do you live in an apartment and your kids are at sporting practices three days out of the week? These will help you determine how much time you and your family will have to put into training and caring for a new puppy.

Other things to consider are health issues and personal preferences. Do any of your children have allergies? Does your child want a particular type of dog? Do you mind grooming or would rather have little to no maintenance at all? Will the puppy be an inside dog or an outside dog? Here is are some of the preferences you’ll want to consider:

-Grooming
-Exercise / Activity Level and Energy
-Size
-Physical Characteristics
-Temperament
-Assertiveness
-Pure breeds vs. Mixed breeds
-Buying from Breeders vs. Adopting from Rescues
-Budget

Research
If you have determined what your schedule allows and you have preferences nailed down, then start researching. You’ll want to pair your lifestyle, environment and preferences with a dog that is compatible with these factors. Adding all of these up should lead to a narrow field of contenders.

Breed Talk
With the right training and socialization, any dog can be great with kids. However, there are some proven kid-friendly dogs. Find out more about Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Collies.  All of these dogs are good-natured, intelligent and have moderate energy levels. There are more breeds that fall into these categories as well and all breeds have pros and cons, so make sure you research well.

If you or your children have allergies, look into “hypoallergenic” breeds. Although no breed is truly hypoallergenic, some breeds tend to shed less, thus creating less dander.

A Word on Size
As with breeds, any size dog can be a great fit for children in a family, however, larger breed dogs, tend to be much more patient and tolerant with children. A tug on the tail or the ear is much less likely to draw aggression from a sturdier dog than from a much smaller dog.

Timing
Don’t forget about the timeliness of getting a new dog. How old is your child? Most veterinarians suggest waiting to get a new dog until your child starts grade school. This doesn’t mean that your child can’t have positive encounters with a dog before your family owns one. Start teaching your child early on how to properly treat and act around dogs. These experiences will alert you to when your child is prepared to care for and treat a dog in your own family.

Also consider the age of the dog. If you’re getting a new puppy, any age from 8 weeks to 4 months is ideal.

Consider, Talk, Reconsider
In all these steps, it’s important to talk with your significant other and children as well as all people who will be directly involved in the care for the dog. Bringing a dog into your family shouldn’t be a rash or hasty decision. Think long term about your life and any future plans. BBS suggests discussing all the points we’ve listed above with the members of your family, having them think long and hard about the decision and then return with questions and concerns.

It’s also important to set down a list of ground rules with children from treatment to care. A child having it’s own dog is a wonderful experience, but it also teaches a child responsibility and empathy. If all the conditions are right, a new puppy can truly be a special gift for a family.

Remember, owning a dog is not a light responsibility. It means work. Make sure you are making an informed and thoughtful choice.

What is your advice for bringing a new puppy into your child’s life? Leave your advice in the comments section below!