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Thread: Labs and small children

  1. #11
    BigBrownDog is offline Senior Member
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    I don't think that it's a great idea to place a puppy with a family who has very small children and have never owned a dog before. I just don't think that the puppy (in the majority of cases) will get the attention it needs to develop into a well rounded trustworthy adult dog. I think that these are often the kinds of placements that result in out of control 9 month old dogs in shelters and rescues.

    That said - a puppy in a family who has responsibly owned dogs before and is committed to making the dog a family member can do this regardless of the age of the children involved.

    My experience - I had an adult dog throughout my boys early childhood. She was an exceptionally well mannered dog and they learned early on that dogs have feelings and they had to treat her with respect - or ELSE! And - even though I was an experienced dog person when I got my first dog as an adult - I don't know that I would have done her justice if I had an infant to deal with as well.

    I also had a dog when I was a small child and he bit me more than once. The final time required a bunch of stitches in my face. He had no tolerance for children and should have been rehomed before the final bite. I, of course, was heartbroken when my parents had to get rid of him.
    Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.

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  3. #12
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    dweck is offline Senior Member
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    My post from the "Our Best Advice" sticky in the Puppy/Training forum

    KIDS -n- DOGS

    You're going to need to work on BOTH ends of this equation, with your children AND your dog.

    We went thru this when we got Wesley -- our girls were 7, 3 and prenatal. It is one of the most rewarding and bonding experiences a kid can go thru, but it requires work-work-work, especially initially as things are being sorted out.

    Before the puppy comes home: Make sure the kids understand that you're now sharing your home and lives with a living, breathing animal. This isn't a Barbie doll, nor a tricycle. The dog will bark, run, pee, poop, eat, sleep. He'll want to be left alone at times, and he'll want to be included at others. Your kids will need to know that his tail is not for pulling, his ears are not for biting, and his tummy is not for every stray Cheerio that they may want to get rid of.

    ESSENTIAL TO ALL THIS is a crate and a leash. And then there's the equipment for the dog. J/K. But seriously, the crate will be a place that the pup can go to get away from it all; have the kids respect that, especially if he's sleeping.

    TRAINING MANNERS will be vital. Dog will quickly need to learn OFF, LEAVE IT, DOWN, SIT, HEEL, QUIET, KENNEL-UP, and POTTY. The earlier you can train these, the better. Use short sessions that remain fun, especially early on. Your dog has a lot to learn and the attention span of a flea with which to learn it.

    GET OVER FOOD AGGRESSION ISSUES EARLY!! Our breeder recommended this from day one, and it worked fantastic. At every feeding, put the bowl down. Then, after a few bites, pick it up. Wait a moment and put it down again. Have your kids play with the kibble while pup is eating. Get their hands in there and have them sift through it.

    The idea from the very start is to teach the dog that there's nothing you can't give that you can't also take away. And the same goes for the kids. You'll want to be careful of the games you play, too. For instance, many dogs love tug, but they can get out of hand w/it. If you're playing tug, make sure you 'win' more than you lose.

    Kelrobin Cleveland Street Denizen, CGC, RN [Parker]

    "Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence" -- IAWL Screenplay (1946)

  4. #13
    BucksMom is offline Senior Member
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    yes what Dan said!!. I'll add that my boy is 9 years old now. He has been with small children since the day we brought him home. 10 hours a day, mon-fri. There are usually 5 children here between the ages of 1-6. Never once had anything serious happen. It took a ton of work. But he is a wonderful full time daycare dog. I would imagine that screening for owners is a very difficult thing to do.

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  6. #14
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    Tanwen is offline Senior Member
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    The thing that strikes me about the posts here is that two parties need to be trained...the dog is obvious but children need to be taught how to behave around dogs. Every dog (like humans) can have an 'off day', if child hurts or startles a dog then the animal will react...it is the responsibility of the (adult) owner to supervise them...unless the child(ren) have been taught how to behave around dogs and know not to poke/prod/tease/play too rough.
    Dogs have big teeth and children small, delicate faces but the two can learn mutual respect.

  7. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanwen View Post
    The thing that strikes me about the posts here is that two parties need to be trained...the dog is obvious but children need to be taught how to behave around dogs. Every dog (like humans) can have an 'off day', if child hurts or startles a dog then the animal will react...it is the responsibility of the (adult) owner to supervise them...unless the child(ren) have been taught how to behave around dogs and know not to poke/prod/tease/play too rough.
    Dogs have big teeth and children small, delicate faces but the two can learn mutual respect.
    Good posts, thanks. Now, considering that most of the time we breeders may only have 2 months tops to really screen folks who want a puppy, what kind of questions would you ask those parents of small children before inviting them for a visit later on?

    WindyCanyon Girls, August 2014

  8. #16
    javasmom is offline Senior Member
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    I'd ask what kind of training they plan to do with the dog AND with the children. Make sure they teach their children to treat the pup/dog as they would treat another human. Dogs are animals, they're not jungle gyms or fun toys to climb on, yank and pull on.
    I'd make sure they understand that pups nip and use those little baby teeth-ALOT. Puppies growl and bark and bite-but it is not a sign of aggression.
    I'd ask if they plan on having the dog be a full member of the family-go on vacations with them, go to kids sporting events (baseball games, soccer, etc).
    I'd also ask if they want a puppy for themselves or for their children. Many people want to get pups for their kids thinking they'll grow up together and be great buddies, etc, but once the pup gets a little bigger the kids lose interest and the dog ends up ignored, neglected and treated like a piece of furniture. The truth is, kids these days have short attention spans and they also are busier than ever with school and sports. Once the newness of a puppy wears off, most kids will lose interest and go on with their lives, which leaves the parents to take care of the dog. Are the parents prepared to do this? Are they prepared to exercise, play with and train a dog? Do they have the time to devote to a dog-especially a lab? Do they want the dog just as much if not MORE than the kids?
    I do not believe people should get pups for their kids, it should be a family decision and everyone should be on board, but I truly feel that it should be the adults that really want a dog. Kids cannot grasp the concept of responsibility at a young age and they have no idea what is involved in caring for an animal-all the time, patience (which children have a short supply of) and dedication it takes to have a great family dog. Puppies are cute and everyone loves them when they're little, but once they get bigger many people lose that initial fascination with them, especially children. That's why I always feel it is a mistake when I hear people say they want to get a pup for their kids...it has to be for them too, otherwise the dog ends up tied up outside in the yard, left alone and ignored.

    Too many people take getting a dog too lightly and the dog ends up paying for it in the end. I hate seeing that.
    Last edited by javasmom; 11-18-2010 at 07:56 AM.

  9. #17
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    HersheyK's Dad is offline Senior Member
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    I will tell the story of three dogs and two grandchildren.
    (1) Mature Yellow Lab about 4 years old when first baby came home. One of the softest caring dogs I have known. His most aggressive move against the kids if they were sticking an elbow in his side attempting to crawl over him, would be a big lick across the face, and a slow gentle shift to a standing position.
    (2) A younger Chocolate Lab, she was 12 weeks old, when she met frist grandchild. Also very gentle with the grandkids, once the initial greeting was over. Initial greeting, to this day, 4 years later, is exhuberant excitement. Need to run around them like an idiot, has to get a couple face swipes in, and then she settles down. The biggest danger to the kids is possibly getting knocked down during the greeting process, which they now understand.
    (3) Not a Lab, I don't think this matters, it is a personallity thing in my mind. Territorial, and the kids are initial intruders. He will bark and air snap. He is put in time out when the air snap happens. After 10 minutes alone and the kids still in the house, he is fine with them, unless....... (We do have to watch the dog and the kids) If the kids decide to have face to face contact with him, or a stare down contest with him, he will snap at them. We continue to work this issue with the dog and the kids. It is controllable, we do not yet know if it is resolvable. As much work with the kids as the dog.
    Hershey Kisses, In charge of getting Ed out to the dog park so that he gets some exercise.

  10. #18
    blackandyellow is offline Senior Member
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    My first comment about the article is about the validity of the "research". I honestly think that word is sooo overused. To be valid, "research" needs to have very specific statistical tests and validity, and most "research" you find on the Internet rarely cites the procedure. Just remember the kid last week that came into the site supposedly doing "research".

    Mentioning that "kid friendly" breeds like Labs are usually the ones who bite... hey did you know labs have been the most popular breed for more than 10 years? Of course the majority of dogs are labs and hence the majority of bites are from labs... Also, an overbred breed like Labs is always spoiled by pseudo-breeders and mills, so calling labs something that has been poorly bred with poor temperaments... same thing has happened to all breeds who become popular (just think Cocker Spaniels).

    Anyway, to business. The "research" says it´s familiar dogs who bite, not the family´s own dog. Not because my dogs are friendly towards a visit (even a regular one) it means it has totally accepted them as part of their "pack". I would honestly say its 99% the parent´s fault when a dog bites, because they let a young child interact with the dog without supervision. If you teach a child how to properly approach a dog and learn to "read" a dog, these problems would not occur.

    My older nieces grew up from babies with our first two labs and they were amazing nannies. Never ever showed a single bit of aggression. My Great Dane was actually an amazing guard dog for them and also a nannie. My niece would drink her bottle resting her head on Muffins belly and nap on her.

    With Misha and Homer, even though they grew with little contact with small children and they indeed were rough, bitey puppies, they actually have a "kid chip" on their heads. Misha was especially sensitive with my autistic nephew and learned to read his body language and play with him (not even his own golden retriever did it, she was somewhat afraid of him). Two weeks ago my brother came to my house for lunch and his 4 year old son had a blast playing with my dogs. They were very gentle with him, they played fetch and Misha even dropped the ball for him (I usually have to pick it from her mouth). My sister in law told me their dog never does that with my nephew.

    So, if you ask me, I think a well bred, well educated lab makes a wonderful pet for a young kid, but the parents AND the Kid need to be dog savy people, understand that a lab puppy will be bitey and rough and hyper and that both child and puppy need to respect each other and that parents always have to supervise interactions. The common misbelief is that a good dog has to withstand all mistreatment from a rough kid. Well I totally disagree with this. Teach child to respect the dog and then the dog will actually love his kid to death and will never harm him

    Just my LOONG two cents...

  11. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackandyellow View Post
    My first comment about the article is about the validity of the "research". I honestly think that word is sooo overused. To be valid, "research" needs to have very specific statistical tests and validity, and most "research" you find on the Internet rarely cites the procedure. Just remember the kid last week that came into the site supposedly doing "research"..
    You're preaching to the choir here on that subject. Though this was more of a "survey", it doesn't invalidate the concerns. My feeling is that many of the "labradors" fingered were probably black and therefore labeled as labs though could well have been a number of other breed mixes, but it still doesn't change the number of dog bites treated.

    So again, what kind of questions would you ask those parents of small children in order to prescreen them if you were the breeder of a very nice, well bred litter of pups, and have otherwise not had a problem in the past finding good, experienced homes or family homes w/ older, more responsible kids? What would make you want to sell to a family w/ toddler/preschoolers--- given the fact that we know Labs can be boisterous (and knocking down a 2 yo can certainly do more harm than a 10 yo) and can and do chew their share of items, nip, etc, if not watched very closely and given some consistent training? I've yet to see parents w/ toddlers attend an obed class, and just don't see how they have the time. You can say every home is different, but how do *I* know they are truly committed?

    I've also had a 4 or 5 yr old supposedly dog savvy child under adult supervision pick up and drop a puppy here despite being given "rules" otherwise. How could I be assured that young children not do that in their own home and do damage to my puppy? Can you see better why rescues and some breeders just avoid these young families all together?

    WindyCanyon Girls, August 2014

  12. #20
    javasmom is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by windycanyon View Post
    Can you see better why rescues and some breeders just avoid these young families all together?
    I can absolutely see why...an untrained young lab can seriously injure a small child. And a small child can seriously injure a young puppy.
    Small children and puppies COULD be a good combination, however, it's just not something I would do, for both their sakes.

    One question: Is this puppy going to be a family pet or is it a plaything for your child? What are your intentions with this puppy? Training? How much time do you really have to devote to a puppy with small children? Are you being realistic in thinking you can handle toddlers and an 8 week old lab puppy. How will you insure the safety of both your children and my puppy?

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