There are a number of factors any family must consider before
getting a dog. Ensuring that your choice of dog matches your
lifestyle is crucial, so researching various breeds and crossbreeds
is important to make sure that your family will be a good fit for
the dog you want, as different types of dogs have different
requirements. The Kennel Club has a 'Breed Information Centre' on
its website with a wealth of information on each breed, as well as
a 'Find the right breed for you' tool online to find out which
breeds might be right for your lifestyle.
The best way to ensure a dog is happy and well-adjusted
throughout its life is to make sure it is properly trained and
socialised. This takes time and effort but is well worth it to
ensure the dog becomes a happy, functioning member of society.
Training schemes like the Good Citizen Dog Scheme are fantastic for
starting and continuing training with your dog.
Going to a responsible breeder for a puppy is paramount. Good
breeders who follow best practice, such as those belonging to the
Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, will health test their dogs and
ensure that temperament is a priority when breeding, which will
help to ensure the dog is happy and well-adjusted.
It is important that young children are never left alone with a
dog, so any family with young children thinking about getting a
family pet should ensure they can facilitate an environment in
which this will not happen. Whilst any dog can make a wonderful
family pet, no dog should be trusted fully around young children,
just as young children cannot be trusted fully around dogs.
Anyone considering a dog must be well prepared and committed to
caring for the dog - dogs take a lot of time, energy and money to
Benefits of dog ownership for young
Dog ownership teaches children about responsibility and will
help them develop a respect for animals, through caring for another
living being. Also, studies have found that children living with
dogs can be less prone to certain illnesses or conditions, such as
allergies, and it's widely believed that a dog's presence can help
boost people's emotional wellbeing. Growing up around dogs teaches
children how to interact safely with them, which can help to reduce
dog bite incidents throughout their lives as they will know the dos
and don'ts of how to behave around man's best friend.
Issues that prospective dog owners should
- Microchipping - Having a dog microchipped with the owner's
details stored on a microchip database, such as Petlog, is a safe
and reliable way to ensure the dog is returned to its owner should
it go missing. Microchipping will become compulsory in England,
Wales and Scotland as of April 2016, and is already compulsory in
- Cost - owning a dog can be more expensive than people realise
and there are various costs that need to be considered, such as
food, veterinary bills, grooming, toys etc. As a general guide it
can cost around £25 a week to own a dog, and they can live for a
good decade or more.
- Commitment - owning a dog can be more of a commitment than
people expect and prospective owners must ensure that they can
dedicate enough time and energy to training their dog, exercising
it, playing with it etc.
- Many people are not aware that there are 216 individual
recognised breeds of dog in the UK and some may be better suited to
their lifestyle than others. There are a number of rare British
breeds that are considered to be at risk of disappearing from our
streets and parks and as such are classified as being 'Vulnerable
Native Breeds' by the Kennel Club. These are all wonderful breeds
but are just lesser known, so puppy buyers could do well to
consider these when looking for a dog that might fit their
lifestyle and yet be unusual. Many of the lesser known breeds are
wonderfully loyal, affectionate and easily trainable and make
fantastic additions to a family.
Is a dog's natural temperament more important than how
it responds to training, or vice versa?
A well-adjusted dog that fits well into society will have been
bred for good temperament and be well trained and socialised, so a
mixture of both is crucial.
What should people bear in mind when first introducing a
dog to young children?
The most important thing to ensure when introducing a dog to a
young child is that they are never left alone together, no matter
what the breed or crossbreed, size or temperament of the dog. No
dog should be fully trusted around a child, just like no child can
be fully trusted around a dog. Both dogs and young children can be
unpredictable, so any interacting between the two should be watched
over by an adult. A dog needs to get to know a child and vice
versa, and the child needs to know how to safely interact with the
dog. The Kennel Club's Safe and Sound scheme provides a wealth of
information for parents and educators, and an interactive online
game to teach kids how to stay safe around dogs. Visit www.safetyarounddogs.org.uk for more
Anything else about dogs and young families that should
Dogs are pack animals and very loyal, so bringing a new member
of the family into the fold can be threatening to a dog, so it
needs to be done carefully and safely. The overarching message the
Kennel Club would give is that any dog can make a wonderful family
pet, but should never be left alone with a young child.
It is also worth remembering that children can be just as
unpredictable as dogs, and that it is crucial for children to be
taught how to behave around dogs from the earliest opportunity to
ensure that their behaviour helps to encourage the best behaviour
from a dog. If a child acts incorrectly around a dog, it can lead
to the dog acting incorrectly as a result. An example of this
is a family dog that bit a child and was put to sleep. It was a
seemingly unprovoked bite at the time, but following the
destruction of the dog it was found that the child had stuck a
pencil into the dog's ear, which caused it to react by biting - a
natural reaction any animal would have in such a situation.