Your child means the world to you and for a dog lover, a puppy is no less! Being a parent and a pet-parent at the same time can be extremely time-consuming, but as the pros definitely outweigh the cons, it can be a truly fulfilling experience, for you and especially for your “little ones”. The bond between kids and pups has been known to create lasting relationships; after all, it is one shared by the most innocent beings together.

Every parent wants to teach their young ones the importance of respect, care and love for other living beings. And what better medium is there than through the ways of a dog. First and foremost, it is essential for a parent to understand the psyche of their child when socializing them with puppies. While your puppy may mature and calm down a few years after infancy, this will not be the same for your child. Hence, it is advisable to introduce your child to the puppy once the excitement stage has passed; best after 6 years of your child’s growth. Kids alone can be quite a handful and with puppies, there is a double responsibility. This lies in keeping the child as well as the puppy safe from harm.  Thus begins the role of a puppy in your child’s life as a teacher and a companion. Children will best learn respect though a simple play session with the puppy, primarily by treating the puppy well. The key aspect involved in rearing a child and a puppy together is to provide sufficient love and attention to both. For this, you want the puppy to learn to play safely too and have a positive experience with the child.

Supervision! This is the most essential factor involved in socialization. As constant vigilance is necessary with any growing kid, so also, it is important to supervise the relationship between a pup and a kid. For instance, the basics such as running away from the puppy (even as a playful gesture) or pulling on their tails should be discouraged as it could lead to the development of bad habits in the puppy or even the child getting injured. Also, you know how devious children can be when it comes to rules, especially once the adult is out of the room and hence, it is important to supervise children that spend time with the puppies and vice-versa.

The perfect fit for your child! This is essential as it is based upon the needs of your child and the age as well. Moreover, the dog must take to the child too, which may not always be the case.  Research has shown that a child of 6 years would best be suited with a pup that is at least 2 years old whereas for those over 7 years, a new-born puppy is a good option.

Consider this! Breeds are streamlined as well to those that will best suit your child’s temperament. For instance, Pugs, with their high tolerance power are best for small kids whereas Jack Russell Terriers may go well with older kids as they require a lot of discipline and attention. Unfortunately, there are the breeds that are not so good with kids such as Toy Poodles, because of their intolerance with noise and activity or Chihuahuas (small yet feisty) who tend to growl at small children.

A puppy brings smiles to everyone around! Sure, this could be reason enough to own one, but there’s more! Besides providing an emotional stability, owning a dog has proven to have its physical benefits too. It leads to a stabilization effect on pet owners and in 1-6 year-olds, motivates social skills, improves coordination and helps to build up immunity from pet allergies when older.

Just like coffee and cream or a cozy corner on a rainy day, pups and kids are a great combination. A puppy can be your kid’s fondest childhood memory. It can give your child the understanding to care for something and to nurture a bond with love. It can

raise empathy in a kid and prove to be the greatest source of entertainment and companionship. The right dog can be a valuable companion in the life of any child who would just love to have a buddy to high-five or to simply, roll over on command.

This feature was published in Dogs & More magazine, Jan-Feb 2013, used here with permission from the publisher.