Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are Dalmatians Good With Kids?

Oliver meeting kids

We get this question a lot, and it's an important one.  The answer is generally yes, but it depends on three things.  The dog's basic disposition, how it is socialized as a puppy, and how it is raised by it's new owners.

There is a lot of variation in temperaments in this breed.  Like dark eyes, nice spotting, and correct gait, good temperament is something that should be bred for.  Although you can modify a defective temperament, you can't really change it.  By the same token, a dog with a basically good disposition still needs to be properly socialized and trained.  A responsible breeder matches the pups to the homes to be sure that a puppy going as a family companion has the appropriate disposition.

Responsible breeders take the time to introduce their puppies to small children from an early age.  We like to play "pass the puppy", with kids sitting in a circle on the floor and the pups being passed from one child to the next, with a hug for each puppy.  This can be done from an early age and is a great place to start. Children look, sound, and smell different than adults.  They move faster and have higher pitched voices.   A dog (of any breed) who is not exposed to kids from a young age is often intimidated by them and may act defensively.  The more children the puppies are exposed to, the better, and this should continue until all pups are placed.

When the pups go to their new homes this exposure must continue.  Even if the puppy buyer does not have children, they are part of every dog's world.  Nieces & nephews, grandkids, the kids next door.  All dogs should be comfortable with children.  New owners who plan to have a family must be especially careful to expose their dogs to children - friendly well behaved children.  It's also important to raise a puppy to be a dog, not a furry child.  Dogs treated as kids are much more likely to be jealous of a new baby.

It's important that all puppy-kid situations are carefully supervised.  Kids can be rough and puppies can be hurt or scared.  A small puppy who has a bad experience with children may always be uncomfortable around them.

Dals got a bad rap during the Disney Days of the 80s and 90s.  Dals were too popular, many were bred from substandard stock in puppy mills where they received NO socialization of any kind, and people bought the dogs "for the kids".  The under-socialized pups often went to homes where they received no socialization, no training, and very little exercise, and there was no supervision of any kind.  A recipe for disaster.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have found that the issue is not whether the dog is good with children, but rather are the children good with dogs. When I started breeding Bassets in the 70's there was never a dog/child incident. Unfortunately now that we are in the next century there seems to be any number of children who cannot be trusted with a dog. I have reached the point of rarely selling a puppy to home with children under the age of ten.