Dogs And Children

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Dogs and children

KGR does not rehome greyhounds to families with children under the age of 8, unless the dog has been thoroughly assessed in a foster home.  If you are rehoming a lurcher and your child is under 10 years old, we will also have assessed the dog in a foster home. You will need to have had some experience with dogs.  We will only make an exception to these rules for young puppies.

In the foster home we will have tested the dog to ensure – as best we can – that the dog has a good temperament and is child friendly.   A lot of rescues will not rehome dogs to families with children because even a fully assessed dog can:

  • Have a fright and react in an unpredictable way;
  • Be pushed to the limit of its patience by a child, usually because boundaries are not being enforced by the parent;
  • Be awakened from a deep sleep or a bad dream and react in an out-of-character way.

Dogs are sometimes returned to rescue centres (or relinquished to rescue centres) because they have snapped at a child.  They are normally not bad dogs, but are nevertheless labelled aggressive and can be put at risk.  In fact, it is usually because parents have not enforced boundaries or they have not organised their home so that young children and dogs can be kept separate when they are not being supervised.

By ‘supervision’, we mean actively paying attention to the interaction between your child and dog, not listening from upstairs, working at a desk in the corner or reading on the sofa.You need to take responsibility for the interaction between the dog and the child because the child does not understand.

Before considering adopting a dog from KGR or anywhere else, you need to consider 2 things:

  1. Will your children respect the dog and give it space? A dog is not a toy and children - without any exceptions or excuses - need to understand this.
  2. Will your children leave the dog alone if your ask them to? If you will not, do not or cannot enforce this request, then you put both your child and the dog at risk.

If this answer is no to either of the above - then you need to delay getting a dog until your children are able to give the dog respect and space. Although we can do our best to test the temperament of a dog, we cannot test for children who do not understand, or parents who will not enforce the simple rules of children living happily with dogs.  If you have children and you are considering rehoming a dog or a puppy from KGR, we will expect the following:

  1. You must understand the importance of actively supervising your child and dog when they are together.
  1. You will be expected to demonstrate at your homecheck where the dog will stay when you cannot actively supervise the interaction between the dog and your child.  Preferably it will be a room you don’t use all the time, with a gate across the door (most dogs will not enjoy a closed door when the family are in the house), or a crate tucked into the corner of the living room / kitchen.  Your child must be able to follow instructions to leave the dog where it is.  This space will also be essential when children visit. 
  1. Your child needs to understand that if you say no, to whatever he or she is doing with the dog, you actually mean no and they need to stop.  No excuses.  Only you know whether your child has self-control.  It is not something you can put an age recommendation on – even a 10 year old can jump off a sofa and land on a dog.
  1. You will be expected to attend a training course with the whole family.  You need to understand this might clash with bedtimes, or meal times.  If there are no suitable classes that will welcome your whole family, then you must arrange private sessions at your home.  You should research availability and costs before adopting the dog.
  1. You will be expected to ensure your dog has a quiet place to sleep where it will never be disturbed.  This a really important rule and your child must be able to always keep to this rule. Children must never suddenly wake a sleeping dog - greyhounds can often sleep with their eyes open and appear to be awake. If your dog is asleep, or in its bed, your children need to respect the dog's space - a dog is not a toy.
  1. You must be prepared to train your dog to stay off the sofa and beds.  The dog should be resting in its own bed, where it will not be disturbed. You may need a bed in more than one room.
  1. You must feed the dog alone, where he will not be disturbed by children.  At your training sessions, your child will learn how to give your dog treats in return for a behaviour, like a sit, or a stay.  You must ensure your child does not eat near the dog until he is trained with food manners.
  1. You must teach your child how to play safely with your dog.  It is essential that you seek advice from your trainer because all dogs are different.  For example, squeaky toys can be too exciting for some greyhounds and lurchers.  Teach your child not to take toys from the dog, not to sit on the dog or pull his fur and not to follow the dog if he moves away. 
  1. You should do some research and learn about dog behaviour. Dogs use lots of signals to tell us they are not happy and it is good to know what these are and what they mean.  It is clear that a growl means that the dog is extremely unhappy or uncomfortable and the particular interaction needs to stop immediately, but a dog will normally have told you he is worried or uncomfortable before he growled.  For example, he may have licked his nose, or yawned or moved away.  He may have tucked his tail under, or his body may have become stiff.  Learn what your dog is trying to tell you. 

Before meeting the dogs, please let us know if any of your children are nervous around dogs, have any learning difficulties or have any allergies.

Think carefully. 

It can be really rewarding for your children to grow up around a dog, but do take time to think carefully.  Who will walk the dog in the morning and evening when there lots of things to do with the children?  It is not appropriate to think a slow walk to school with a young child is exercise – it’s not!

Is everyone committed to training the dog? And does everyone want the dog enough to be prepared to put the hard work in.

Can you really commit to our rules?  These rules are sensible and good for all dog owning families.

Children and Puppies

If you are considering a puppy, please remember just how much hard work they can be. They chew, they play bite and they are on the go most of the time. Consider carefully whether you have really got the time and commitment? If you have, then a puppy if a great idea, but if you don't then please wait until your children are older. It is really unfair on a puppy to adopt him then find out you don't have the time for him. He may have missed out on valuable training but you will also have deprived another family of adopting a young puppy.

Children and Cats

Unless the dog is 100% cat friendly, we do not rehome to families who have both children and cats as the cat training can be quite time consuming and if you don’t have the time to do it correctly it puts both the cat and the dog at risk. Separation of the animals may be necessary during the early parts of the training and it is hard for children to remember to close doors. We have had too many dogs returned because the adults did not have the time to follow the guidelines, because of the children, despite their initial promises. The dogs are rarely cat friendly - they are cat workable – this means we believe they can be trained, but you still have to do the hard work.

If the dog is marked as cat friendly (rather than cat workable) on his adoption post then it may be able to live with children as the hard work has been done.