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Responsible Ownership
Article by Kelly Marshall of Oh My Dog Supplies  -
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Kids, Dogs and Responsibilities
by Kelly Marshall
Dogs and kids go together even better than milk and cookies, particularly when the
child is old enough to participate in playing, exercising and the care and feeding of the
family dog. Most children naturally gravitate toward animals and, like dogs, can
genuinely reap benefits from socializing interacting with dogs from a young age. Very
few dogs are better off away from children, however their tolerance may really depend
on the dog's individual temperament and whether or not they have been raised in a
positive situation involving kids. Dogs of any age, size or breed can be taught to have
fun interacting with children. All that's needed is positive reinforcement, gradual
desensitization and socialization of the dog with the child. It is also important not to
"force the issue", don't expect it to happen all at once.

Certain dogs, such as the very tiny, miniature dogs are better paired with an older
child who understands the best way to hold and handle these little ones. Many
breeders of tiny or toy breeds will not sell puppies to homes with small children under
6 or 8 years old only because very young children have difficulty understanding the
correct way handle the tiny pups. Other breeds, terriers for example, are better but
the children need to be taught not to tease or taunt them.  Dogs naturally react with
growls, snapping, snarling, barking and even biting when they feel insecure or
alarmed or down right scared. Timid or nervous breeds are also not the best match for
small children because kids of that age are more likely to move suddenly and make
loud noises which can intimidate the dog. Many of the active, larger dogs such as
Boxers or Labradors may intimidate smaller children not only because of their natural
exuberance but simply because of their size. A large dog jumping up around a small
child is very threatening for the child, especially if the dog is as tall as or taller than the
child when standing still.

Parents are primarily responsible to teach their child the proper way to approach any
animal, no matter the breed or the size or how friendly the dog may appear to be. The
friendliest dogs in the world can be overwhelming to small children when they are too
affectionate or too exuberant in their play. Parental supervision and instruction will
help the child begin to understand and relate to the dog's behavior. Then, and only
then, will the relationship between dog and child continue to grow. Parents must be
ready to step in and supervise the child's byplay with the dog until they convinced
there is no reason for concern from either the dog or the child.

Older, more responsible children can definitely be more involved in the daily care of the
dog. They can feed, change the water, clean the yard and even have responsibility for
exercising and training. However, it is still important that the parents check up on the
child's ability to perform the task and consistency with which these chores are done.
After all dog can't tell you hey I wasn't fed or walked today, or my water bowl wasn't
filled. When children are made the keepers for these basic needs, the parents are
ultimately responsible to regularly verify how and when the chore is being completed
and be quick to praise the child for a job well done and offer a helping hand if needed.
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