“Please Mum, can we pleeeease get a puppy?”
Busy parents often feel the pressure from their children to get a puppy. The family may take on a puppy without fully thinking through what’s involved in looking after a canine companion. It can work out just fine or the outcome could be pet neglect or surrender, which affects the whole family, including the dog.
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So, when’s the best time to get a puppy for your child?
There’s no hard or fast rule, however, you need to consider a couple of things:
- Your ability to supervise the interaction between your child and the dog to prevent dog bites and a stressed pet. Crate train your pup to give him a secure, happy space to be on his own and escape the children.
- The time needed to looking after and training your pup to be happy, well-adjusted dog that is well-mannered in your community
We’ve gathered advice from few experts below to help you make better decisions about the best time to get a puppy for your child.
Children and dog bites
Adding a puppy or adult dog to the family brings the risk of dog bites. According to The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, around 13,000 people each year attend hospital emergency departments in Australia for dog bite injuries. Most dog bites to children are caused by the family dog (33%) or a dog known to the family. Children under the age of five are most at risk and are most frequently bitten by their own family dog or by a friend’s dog, usually in or around the home.
Incidents are commonly triggered by a child’s interaction with the dog such as playing or approaching the dog while it is sleeping or eating. Even the most relaxed and calm adult dog will only put up with so much prodding and unwanted attention from young children. Supervision of every interaction between young children and a pup is key to preventing dog bites!
What the experts say about the best time to get a puppy for your child
Dr Gaille Perry, Delta Institute says the best time to get a puppy for your child depends on the level of maturity of the child and the willingness of the parents to supervise. But if you want a blanket number I’d go for school age, bearing in mind that the age group most likely to be bitten goes up to nine years old. Impulsive kids of any age should not be left unsupervised with dogs.
Dr Katrina Warren (Wonderdogs Tricks & Training) says young children should not be left unsupervised with puppies as they often excite them which, in turn, initiates nipping. If you have a toddler and a puppy, you must actively supervise (staying within an arm’s length) or separate them.
According to Peteducation.com, by the time children are seven or older, some of them are ready to start to develop a rewarding relationship with a dog. Remember, no young child is capable of properly training or completely caring for a dog, so the parent must always ultimately take full responsibility for the pet.