Owning dogs can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences for many people. Some couldn’t envision their life without a dog or two to share it with. Many feel that their life wouldn’t be the same without them. For most people, a dog is considered their pet or best friend. The dog sleeps in the bed with them. They go for rides in the car with them and some even take them on vacation. These people truly consider their dog a part of the family.
Then there are those “show dog” people. And yes, most of them are cut from a different cloth than the “average” person is. They live, breathe, walk and talk dogs! Yes, believe it or not, there is such a creature! They come from all different economic and social backgrounds. But regardless of their “walk in life” they all share the same common interest and connection and that is their love for the dog.
Breeding and showing dogs for the most part is considered a hobby. There are a few breeders that make their living or supplement their income by raising dogs. But whether or not it’s a hobby or an income for some, these people chose to become involved with dogs. It was their decision to do so. But how does this decision affect the rest of the family and especially the children?
Hopefully if you are married or have a partner in your life that the two of you enjoy owning dogs. You both work towards a common goal and both contribute to the upkeep of the animals in your care. Being with someone who does not share your interest in dogs can be very challenging to the relationship. If you have a tolerant partner who is not jealous and demanding of your time, then the relationship can work out fine. Raising animals is a full time job and being involved with someone who doesn’t understand this can cause many long term problems. I already wrote about the problems that can arise when two people don’t share the same interests in another article that you can find in the archives section of this blog. For this article, I wanted to address the children in the family.
When one thinks a child with a dog, a picture might come up in your mind of a boy with his dog fishing in the neighborhood pond. Or you might recall the old Lassie stories on television that many of us seen growing up as children ourselves. Dogs and children……is there not a better way to grow up? Most children that are raised with dogs usually love them. It teaches them to respect life in all its forms. It teaches them responsibility. It teaches them to give and receive love. I think it can be a beautiful experience for both the child and the dog as well. But what about when it isn’t a beautiful experience?
We must never lose sight of the fact that this is OUR hobby that we chose to become involved with. The children didn’t choose this hobby. The child will hopefully love what we do and want to participate in it, but that’s not always the case. As the children grow older they will have their own activities and hobbies that they may want to enjoy. When children are forced to do something, we all know how much they can rebel against it. When a parent makes the child take care of the animals and do all the work involved with their upkeep, the child can grow resentful towards the dogs. I know people that make their children feed, water, clean the dog’s runs, groom them, etc. Now this is fine if the children enjoy being involved with the upkeep and care of the animals. However, when the parent forces the child to do all the work everyday, well you can see why the child can become bitter. And yes, this happens. The child is being used to do all the work that the adult doesn’t want to do. I once knew of a child that is now an adult that wouldn’t step foot on a show ground anymore because she was dragged from one show to the next and forced to do all the work that her parents should have been doing.
On the other hand, if the child is raised with lots of love and attention and he looks at the dogs as part of his family, he too will love animals. Teaching and giving child chores is fine, but having him do the adults work because you don’t want to, is not. When a child is being used to take care of the animals and doing the work that the adult should be doing (because it is HIS hobby), then the child can grow bitter and when he reaches adulthood the relationship remains strained. I have seen it time and time again. Then the parent complains when the child is an adult that they are being very “testy” with them. He’s an adult now and can now let you know his displeasure with having to be forced to do something that should have been your responsibility in the first place. Like someone told me once…..”She wanted them; let her take care of them!” OUCH!
Children should be able to pursue their own interests and participate in after school activities with their friends. They should have time for themselves to develop into the fine young people that we hope that they will be. If loving and wanting dogs or animals in their life is something that they chose to do then it was their choice to do so.
Children and dogs should be a wonderful combination and in most cases it is. Many times the child wants to help with the care of the dog or dogs. This is fine and welcomed by most parents. This is because the parents honored their child’s own individuality and included him in the family’s activities with or without dogs. The wise parent knows that not every child will want to participate in the sport of dogs. This should be fine. Your child will love you for it. But when the child is made into a slave to do all the work taking care of our canine friends, then a happy household will not be realized at that address.
My rating: dogs and children: (4), children doing most of the work: (1)
From the book "LIVING WITH KIDS AND DOGS....WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND"......At last! A kids-and-dogs book for parents written by someone who "gets it." This is a wonderful book. Useful, useful, useful information—all the main points in an extremely easy-to-read style. As a trainer and a mom, Colleen sees the full picture." — Dr. Ian Dunbar Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind by Colleen Pelar, CPDT, covers more than introducing a baby to the family dog. It has chapters devoted to each stage of a child’s life with parental pointers for setting their family up for success while raising kids and dogs together. Parenting books say control your dog; dog-training books say control your kids. The reality is far more complex and goes way beyond placing blame on either children or dogs for being who they are. Living with Kids & Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind provides busy parents with simple, realistic advice to help ensure that the relationship between their kids and their dog is safe and enjoyable for all. You will learn how to • Help your child and dog develop a strong relationship, built on trust and cooperation • Set your family up for success with a minimum of effort • Recognize canine stress signals and know when your dog is getting worried about normal kid activity • Identify serious behavior problems before someone gets hurt • Provide specific help for managing the interactions with dogs through each stage of your kids’ lives from infancy through the teen years • Prevent your child from becoming part of a growing statistic—children who have been bitten by a dog.