Children and toy breed dogs
I do not recommend getting a toy breed dog if there are children under the teen years in the household. (Most show breeders will not allow any breed or size of puppy to go to a home with small children.) Especially boys have a tendency to tease and torment a small dog and if they don’t, their friends will. Boys just seem to not be able to resist teasing and getting a reaction from a dog while girls have more of a tendency to nurture and TLC something so little. I have seen this over and over again and the poor dog ends up being a child hater and either defends itself or it runs and hides. Neither situation is what parents appreciate and the dog ends up losing its home. When my own daughter started having a family, I offered to find her two poms a safe home (she wouldn’t give up the poms so she never allowed her two sons to even touch or interact at all with the poms). When I was mentoring a young gal with 2 sons, she brought her 8 year old with her and I told her what her son was going to do before he did it. He was asked to not go into the yard with the poms and not more than 5 minutes later with a stick in hand he was in the yard with the poms chasing them teasing and tormenting with the stick to get some kind of reaction from them for his own amusement. Many parents do not realize this teasing and tormenting is actually going on. I had a nephew who had been good with the poms until he brought a friend here to play – the two “brains” decided it would be fun to tease and torment the poms to get a reaction from them. One of my broods that had free range of my acreage would chase after kids (she obviously didn’t like them) and it was because (unknown to me at the time) she had been teased and tormented by a child or children. A toy breed is not sturdy enough to endure a family of young children. I’ve raised poms for 50 years and you can tell by my relating these incidences that I too was unaware of how much kids tease and torment dogs. Parents definitely need a plan to keep the dog safe in their own family and also keep them safe when they have house guests. The other factor is the young children can trip over the dog and break their own legs (as did my sister when we were children) or if a child drops the dog legs break on something so small (they don’t land like a cat does when it is dropped or jump out of someone’s arms). A fall or being dropped on especially ceramic tile or concrete can also easily kill a tiny pom.
Children should NEVER be left alone with dogs, regardless of how wonderful the dog is. Accidents happen and a child may fall on a sleeping dog, resulting in a nip which may be a very gentle warning, but which may still cause the child to be terribly upset and therefore place the poor dog in a bad light. Children often do not pick up warning signals (dog looking uncomfortable, freezing or growling) and so will often continue to harass a dog to a point where it would be unfair to expect the dog not to react. At the very least, if an incident does occur it is vital that there is a witness so that one knows what provoked the nip and what needs to be done to make sure it does not happen again.
Many harassed mothers complain that they find it difficult to house train or chew-toy train a puppy, because their children interfere or don’t cooperate. They often ask for a short-cut that will magically make the puppy perfect without any real work or management. Such a short-cut does not exist and the only solution is to ensure that children in the home obey the rules. This is not a dog problem, but a parenting problem!
Young children find it hard to follow instructions properly. They usually lack coordination and their timing is poor. They also get frustrated when things don’t happen at once and tend to become rough with the puppy fairly quickly (not intentional, but small children do not have a well-developed sense of empathy and cannot understand how their actions affect others). While well-behaved children are an asset to any puppy class (they assist with socialisation) they are not capable of training a dog or puppy properly. This is the parents’ responsibility.
WRITTEN BY DIANE FINCH OF FINCHS POM USA AND SUPPORTED BY POMMANIA POMS
ALTHOUGH I WILL CONSIDER CHILDREN FROM 8 YEARS AND UP