Many families are looking for the ideal family dog. But does such a dog exist at all? Which breeds fit into family life and can they be relied upon?
What are family-friendly dogs?
Mostly it is meant that the dog fits well into a family. Often there are children involved, which means the four-legged friend should also be child-friendly. Often you read in breed descriptions of supposedly child-friendly dogs, which are well suited for beginners. Yes, we also have information about this, but with an important note. Every dog is an individual and does not have to conform to its breed standard. Breeds have been bred for certain jobs, from which certain characteristics can be guessed, but not every dog in a breed has to match those descriptions exactly.
One part is genetics, but another important part is upbringing, experience and personality.
Important: To anticipate the disappointment right away. The perfect family dog does not exist!
What characterizes a family dog?
Nowadays, high demands are placed on our faithful companions. They should adapt to our everyday life, walk relaxed on the leash in the city, be well-behaved when running free, keep up with us and not stop to sniff, welcome every visitor warmly, protect us from burglars, be sports buddies and comforters, follow our word, always want to cuddle, etc. Family dogs should also be fond of children, without resisting or even growling.
Expectation vs. reality
You may already realize that many things are very contradictory and the probability that a dog can fulfill all our wishes is not very high. Imagine that a single person in your life would have to take all the roles that are important to you (mother/father, lover, therapist, teacher, child, sports buddy, friend, etc.). You see this is an impossibility and that is why most people have several other people in their lives to meet all these needs. So in a way all social roles are covered.
Dogs often have to serve as a substitute when one or more people in our lives are missing or do not fulfill their role according to our expectations. But a dog is not a human being and should not be forced into a role that he can not fulfill. Especially not if it is expected to perfectly replace many roles.
What is the absolute family dog?
Since every family has different demands, ideas and lifestyles, it is not possible to recommend a general breed. For example, we often read about Labradors or Golden Retrievers as good family dogs. Many individuals of these breeds are indeed cooperative and open-minded, as they have long been bred for these qualities, but they are also hunting dog breeds.
The dangerous fallacy is that you can find what is supposed to be the perfect beginner breed on the internet and think you don’t have to do anything more. The dog is virtually self-educating, puts up with everything and runs along so incidentally in everyday life.
Family dogs are child-friendly
But especially when (small) children live in the household, the caregivers are often quickly overwhelmed, because the dog needs a lot of attention. Child and dog can become a great team. However, clear rules are needed for both sides! The dog must be taken seriously in his body language and also the child needs areas for itself. Otherwise it can quickly end up badly. Because even if most dogs are patient for a long time, at some point he says “enough is enough”. If the dog then growls and is possibly punished for it, it can be that he “suddenly” bites at some point and then the dream of a harmonious family life is shattered.
How do I get a family dog?
So if you want a relaxed family life with dog there are some things to consider.
– Which dog fits into our life? Do we have enough time, money, space etc.? Breed descriptions can give a rough guide, but there is no guarantee.
– What experiences does the dog have? Negative experiences with children naturally have an effect on living together. Even if the dog has not yet gained experience, depending on the type of dog, it needs more or less time to do so.
– Once the dog has moved in, it is important to establish clear rules for everyone. Children have to learn when to leave the dog alone, how to deal with him, etc. The dog must first arrive and learn step by step what is important in his new life with you. It takes time to teach him all the rules. You won’t get far with strictness and violence. So be patient and seek help from certified dog trainers.
– Respect your dog’s needs and offer him adequate alternatives for undesirable behavior, for example, if he is not allowed to chase.
Whether a dog becomes a suitable family dog depends, among other things, on his character, his experiences, but also on the education.
Help, our family dog does not meet the expectations.
Quite often the reality of everyday life with a dog differs from our wishes and expectations. That is why it is so important to think about it in advance. But if you now have a dog at home and there is chaos, you are desperate and do not know what to do, it is important to act quickly.
The first step is to get professional help from a dog trainer. Please pay attention to the qualification, otherwise your problems can get worse. Depending on the problem, a veterinarian is also useful as a contact person, e.g. to clarify pain.
Now it is a matter of good management, intensive training and patience to bridge the time until living together becomes easier.
If all else fails, a new home must be found for your dog. Of course, this requires careful consideration and consultation with experts (trainers, etc.). You can find more information here: Giving away a dog.
A family dog can enrich a family if it has been dealt with extensively and enough time and love is given to the dog. Unfortunately, the perfect family dog does not exist, which can be chosen in a picture book. Often the work is underestimated and it comes to disharmonies up to the abandonment of the dog. To prevent this overload, inform yourself in advance exactly.