Little Kids & Little Dogs
Small dogs 15 pounds and up can be fine with children as long as their personality is compatible with children and the children are taught to treat the animal with respect. But it is our policy not to place TINY dogs (under 15 pounds) with children. We catch a lot of flack for this from parents who want tiny dogs. The children may come into contact with a friend or relative's small dog on a part time basis and everything goes fine. On a full time basis, the dog might be miserable. You must remember that we are playing the odds here. We can't possibly know each of the applicants personally. Sure there are parents that could make it work, but in the majority of cases, it's a better match for children to have a dog 15 pounds or over. Since we are a toy breed rescue, we rarely have a dog over 15 pounds and thus rarely place our dogs in homes with children. We know it's frustrating for parents to see a dog on our website and then be told it's not available to them because they have young children. But remember that we are the last line of defense for the dog in question, and we have to make a decision based on what's good for the dog, not the humans applying for him.
Before you send us an email, yes, we know that there are exceptions, but we don't have time to come over to your home and spend enough time to ascertain this. There are ample adult-only homes to adopt and love these dogs. Don't forget that we take the give-up calls every day. We have taken in hundreds of tiny dogs because they did not work out with children. We listen to the frustrated and sad parents who feel they have no choice but to give up a pet they might have had for years because the baby or children are tormenting the dog or the dog has bitten or threatened the children or their friends. Why take the chance of displacing this dog from what he knows and finding another home for him later when we know it is risky?
We have made a list here of some of our reasons. We ask that you consider the following when choosing a dog. Perhaps these growing years for your children are a time when you should compromise, getting a dog a little larger than what you want. We feel it will be a good choice for all concerned. Then when the children are older, get a tiny dog and enjoy it. After all, the dog is for the whole family, and the children need a dog that wants to engage and play with them rather than one that will only seek your company.
Always remember that a dog perceives a child as another dog. That means that when the child starts to irritate him with relentless efforts to have contact when the dog wants to be left alone, the dog will react as he would if another dog were bothering him. He'll try to ignore or walk away and when the child keeps pursuing, he'll finally snap and then eventually bite. If you watch a litter of pups, they often bite each other to communicate "leave me alone" or simply because they feel grouchy. They would never treat you this way. However, a child is only another dog to them. It's their language--it's the only way they know to communicate when all else fails. It's usually a little scratch or bite--it would mean nothing to another dog, but a lot to a child. If the dog you are interested in is the type to bite another dog then he will bite your child if he feels it is necessary.
Tiny dogs tend to be high strung and children set a tone in the household that is NOT calming to them, thus sometimes bringing out the worst in their personalities. Children like to run, scream, play, tumble and so forth. These things tend to make a small dog nervous and sometimes snappy. Or he may play rough the first year or two and then as he matures want only to be held. Then he may not like the company of the children. The dog may become so nervous that he may bite or just be hyper vigilant and barky or he may take to hiding under the bed or in his crate. Also, he may love and hate the children alternately according to their behavior. He may not bite YOUR children but become so nervous that he will bite their friends. Then who pays for this mistake? HE DOES! He may lose his home and go to rescue if he's lucky and to the pound or killed if not so lucky. All too frequently parents and the vet will decide it's all his fault and not realize that the home was causing him too much stimulation. Countless times we have taken small dogs into the program that were extremely over stimulated. These dogs tend to want attention and then back up when you reach for them. They may show wild uncontrolled behavior or barking or may just be very distrusting and avoid touch. The reason is often because children handled them roughly or worked them into a lather and then confused them with inappropriate yelling or hitting to control them.
Another problem with children and tiny dogs is that they are small enough for the children to carry around. Tiny dogs usually love being carried by adults and hate being carried by younger children. They sense danger in the way they are handled by the child. They know instinctively that they may be dropped or hurt by the unsteady way a child carries them. Often when they see the child coming they equate it with a loss of their freedom and being handled against their will, perhaps in an uncomfortable manner. We all know how children want to control the behavior of something smaller than them. Toddlers cannot discern the difference between a dog and a toy. They are not old enough to say "It wouldn't feel very good to be toted around in such an uncomfortable position, so I won't do it to my dog." All too often, the parent thinks it's adorable while the dog is losing patience and wanting Mom to save him from this torment. These small dogs will almost always try to be with the adults and avoid the children. They may eventually growl when the children approach and want to haul them around again. A dog with more weight will not be easy for the children to carry around and won't be so intimidated by them-hence, our recommendation of 15 pounds or more. We look for a dog for families that is going to enjoy everybody and not be afraid or uncomfortable in his own home. The family dog should eagerly approach the children and be willing to play as long as the children play. He should not be snappy with their friends. You shouldn't have to put him away when children come over, and you may indeed have to do that with a very small dog.
Even though your children may love their dog, the tiny dog is at risk with them. All children tend to play carelessly sometimes. We have had toy poodles that have had to undergo painful broken bones and surgery to fix them, not to mention the expense. You cannot watch the children all the time. There are many cases where children rocked a chair back on him or closed a lazy boy chair on him or simply tumbled on him in play. Why risk it?