More Than A Toy

  • Aliki Nassoufis
  • India
  • Aug 11, 2012



Having a dog as a pet is an idea that appeals to almost every child. The animal makes a wonderful playmate and constant companion. But while children dream of having a dog, parents must understand the responsibilities of owning one, because the work often falls on them. A dog should not be selected solely for the child – rather, it should be selected as a pet for the entire family.

People thinking about getting a dog should think about what breed of dog they would like. Parents with children older than 3 years should look for a dog that isn’t bothered by being petted or tugged at around the ears, as a child that age might do to a dog. 

A large dog generally is a good fit, because it is very patient, laid back and has a relatively high anger threshold,” says Udo Kopernik, Spokesman for the German Dog Owners’ Association. Breeds such as golden retrievers, Bernese mountain dogs and Newfoundlanders are good examples. If dogs that belong to those breeds are too large, a beagle should
be considered.

Other dogs that are suitable for children include bearded collies and German shepherds. “They develop a close bond with people, and have no great affinity to the wilderness and hunting – which are advantages,” says Kopernik. Poodles are another good breed. “They are intelligent, playful, and build strong ties with people.”

A few other things are important to consider. Parents should ask themselves whether they can meet the needs of an animal for its entire life, says Bina Lunzer, an animal trainer in Austria. A dog must go outdoors several times a day, and  can live to the age of 20. A family’s situation can change considerably in this amount of time.

It should also be well-established as to who in the family will take the duty of obedience training. In addition, parents should also realize that children aren’t able to care for a dog on their own, dog trainer Katharina Schlegl-Kofler says.

Yes, small children can brush a dog, clean its dish, or teach him tricks,” she says; and “the older the child gets, the more responsibility he or she can assume – but  young people have to go to school and do homework, and cannot be expected to take care of a dog. Older children also can’t take a dog on a walk because larger dogs can be powerful. An adult must take on the
main responsibility

In light of all the work that goes into owning a dog, parents shouldn’t get one just for the sake of their child. “For someone who has always wanted a dog, and was never able to have one, it is a good opportunity to get one,” says Lunzer. “If that’s not the case, and you just want to acquire a dog out of love for your child, then don’t do it. You will not be doing your child, yourself or the dog
any favours


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