Lassie and Timmy, Emily Elizabeth and Clifford, Petey and the Little Rascals: dogs and kids are a classic combination. If your family is ready for a canine friend, you should definitely consider adoption. There are thousands of wonderful dogs in the your area in need of a loving home. While adoption is an incredibly rewarding experience, bringing home a shelter dog when you have kids requires some special considerations.
Some rescue organizations provide background information on the dogs in their care. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. While you may have the noble intention to provide a good home for a dog in need, you need to make sure your new canine friend is the perfect match for you and your family. Shelter recidivism reduces the chances of the dog ever finding a permanent home, so you’re not doing him any favors if you take him home, only to discover that he has to go back to the shelter because he growled at the baby. Inquire about the dog’s previous homes, whether he has been fostered with a family that has children, and what age groups he has interacted with.
Meet and Greet
Once you find a dog that passes the background check, bring your kids to meet him. Even under the best of circumstances, shelters are a stressful environment for dogs, and the way they act in a cage may not be indicative of their true personalities. Ask if you can take the dog for a short walk, or see if he can be transported to a nearby park for a meet and greet. Make sure your kids are well versed in canine etiquette. If you need help on that front, there are plenty of books and videos that teach safe dog interaction. Your kids’ initial contact with the dog should be closely supervised.
If you still feel some trepidation about bringing home a dog of mysterious background, consider fostering. Most rescues are in desperate need of families that can keep dogs safe and cared for until they’re placed in their forever homes. Fostering is temporary, so if the pup happens to clash with the kids, you can arrange to shift him to a child-free foster home. With luck, it might even be a “failed foster,” which is a good thing in the rescue world. It means you became so attached to your furry ward that you’ve chosen to make him a permanent part of your family.