Children and Dogs
Buying a dog or puppy when you have a very young family needs careful consideration. A young puppy will bite, mouth and jump; not because it is aggressive but because that is what puppies do (more information on how to deal with mouthing and biting here).
An adolescent dog will go through a 'teenage' phase when he will need consistent training to keep him within bounds. Most adolescent dogs will test their owner’s patience. Expect this to be doubly difficult if you have small children exciting the dog.
If you decide that the time is right to introduce a dog to your family, give careful consideration to which breed will suit you. Labradoodles are large, intelligent, bouncy dogs. Do you have the time to devote to a dog that requires a large amount of exercise and mental stimulation?
Dogs can find children very exciting and your children will need to be taught how to behave around dogs so that accidents are not caused by the dog becoming unruly and over stimulated.
Your dog will need a quite place of his own where he can rest, away from the children. If he has a crate, then children should be taught that they must leave him in peace when he is in his “den”. Your dog will also know that this is a safe haven when he finds the children too stressful. All interaction between dogs and children should be supervised. Excitement can quickly escalate and accidents can happen.
An adult presence is particularly important with visiting children. House rules will need to be explained and all children will need to be shown how to behave around the dog. If you have children and dogs rampaging around the house, you may consider that it is safer and less stressful to separate the two and perhaps allow the dog some quiet time in his den.
Teach your children never to snatch a toy from your dog and teach your dog to 'swap' on command. A dog that will willingly swap a toy for another toy or treat is less likely to start guarding his belongings. If your dog does show signs of guarding, then contact a trainer straight away before the problem escalates.
Food time should be a relaxed affair and supervised until the dog has finished his meal. Do not leave a bowl of food on the floor, if the dog does not finish his meal then remove the bowl. If you decide to allow your dog a very high value resource such as a bone, then he should eat it in a place away from the children. You may consider that the best time for this is after they have gone to bed at night.
For their own safety, children must be taught to respect dogs. It is unreasonable to expect any dog to tolerate taunting and teasing. If they are pushed beyond limits, they will not write a letter of complaint. All dogs can bite!
Older children will benefit from attending training classes with their dog. Many children make very good handlers and it is when a child becomes involved in training their dog that you will notice a real bond develop. Here is a link to help you choose a suitable class: APDT.