Hands down, dogs are the best family pets, and they’re great for kids. But, the love for dogs that the human species has developed over the years can be blinding to parents, often causing them to overlook the problematic relationship between kids and dogs. What follows are the most common misconceptions about dogs and kids that all parents have to shake.
Four misconceptions about dogs and kids
1. Puppies and babies just go together.
Sure the idea of mixing babies and puppies can lead to an adorable explosion, but it is just wrong. Babies and puppies should not occupy the same space; in fact, they can be a deadly combination. When kids under the age of four fall prey to dog attacks, the family dog is responsible for it 50% of the time. Yes, dogs are great for kids, but older kids. Kids who have the impulse control they need to keep from inadvertently causing the dog to lose his marbles and bite.
2. Good dogs don’t need training.
Most couples start out by raising a dog before they dive in and have kids. And, in many cases, parents feel like their “oldest” family member – a.k.a the canine – has been such a good boy that he will weather life with a kid just fine. But even the best dogs benefit from some training before they’re introduced to kids. Before you had a kid, your dog was the centre of attention. Now that there’s a baby around, he might feel threatened. Even after you’ve trained your pet and had him socialise with kids, you still need to keep an eye on him.
3. Dogs are dirty and make kids sick.
If you have any idea what your baby puts into his mouth when you’re not watching, you’ll understand why this is total crap. Sure there’s slobber and fur, but dogs can actually increase a child’s health outcomes in some pretty cool ways. Dogs and kids just go so well together. Kids that grow up with dogs have been colonised with Ruminococcus and Oscilluspira, both of which are good bacteria. The bacteria are linked to lower obesity rates and allergies in kids.
4. You shouldn’t tell your kid that the dog died.
Telling your kid that Fido went to live a happy life on a distant farm sounds like a good idea, but it is a lie that won’t give your kid the opportunity to mourn the absence of their pet. Kids as young as three can start to grasp that death is a natural part of life, and if the opportunity presents itself, parents should have open conversations with their kids about it.