Children and Dogs

There is nothing nicer for children to be able to grow up with pets and, especially dogs in my opinion!  As a child, I was generally not allowed to keep pets; although I did have a hamster which took some persuasion to acquire I have to say!  My own children have grown up with a menagerie of different animals, but especially dogs, and they have weaved themselves through our lives bringing great pleasure and delight (mostly!) to all of us.

Dogs have a calming influence on children, so much so the Guide Dogs for the Blind now use specially trained dogs as therapy animals for children who are on the autistic spectrum.  Dogs can provide a child with a sense of responsibility and an awareness of the needs of other living creatures and the respect they should be afforded.

However, children need guidance with this from responsible adults and it is essential that dog owners are aware of how to ‘mediate’ between pets and children especially younger children by providing each with boundaries to ensure a happy and risk-free partnership.

Holidays 4 Dogs do not accept carers who have children under five because of the potential risks involved, even knocking over of toddlers, jumping up, excitability (both child & dog!) and food and toys can pose hazards. Some of our approved carers do have older children; however, Holidays4Dogs assessors have to be completely satisfied that all potential carers who have children understand the most appropriate and safest ways for youngsters and dogs to interact.

Some important guidelines to remember and ones you may wish to discuss with your own children periodically include:

  • The importance of not bothering dogs when they are eating or drinking.

  • Avoiding hugging dogs closely – most dogs don’t like this

  • Not pestering dogs when they are sleeping.

  • Remembering to never put your face close to your dog’s face.

  • Avoiding taking dog’s toys or bones.

  • The importance of never grabbing tails or ears and never climbing on your dog.

  • Avoiding shouting loudly near your dog.

Other things you should consider are not letting toddlers lie down with dogs or worse allow young children to get into a dog’s bed or crate. Always supervise young children with dogs and never leave them alone together.  While adult humans are very good at reading canine responses young children won’t have this knowledge or experience to understand if a dog is becoming frightened or agitated.

Children need to be taught how to interact appropriately with dogs and this would include strange dogs when out and about.  It is always important to teach children they must never pet a strange dog without first asking the owner.

Very meaningful bonds can be created between humans and dogs and often this can be can especially marked when it comes to children and dogs.  A family dog can be around from when your children are babies or before until they grow into adults and become very much a part of children’s experiences of growing up.


It is good to encourage children to help in taking care of the family pet where possible.  Include your children in your dog’s exercise, feeding, grooming and training routines and as well as assisting in creating a positive bond between your child and your dog, it will give you the opportunity to guide them in the most appropriate ways to interact with their pet and gain the best experience from owning a dog.

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