The Siberian Husky is much more than an adorable face. Behind all the fluffy and scruffy is a distinct persona that requires attention to detail before adding one to your family, especially in homes with young children.
Meghan Connolly, DVM’s owner of Atlantic The Atlantic Veterinary Behavior located in Gaithersburg, Md., can assist with these dog debates. Alongside helping determine whether huskies can be good with kids, she delves into the meaning behind calling breeds “family-friendly” and how to ensure that your child’s relationship is safe.
What is it that makes a dog great with Children?
What does it think we mean when we say dogs are “good with children” as well as “family-friendly?” For Connolly, the best pet for homes with children is one that’s generally calm and on the gentler side. These characteristics can be beneficial in the presence of children who aren’t yet old enough to respect their space and whose behavior could be unpredictable and loud. Therefore, it is clear that anxious dogs that are easily scared and show warning signs of aggression aren’t the best choice for households with children, She says.
Interestingly, kid-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean small-sized since many friendly, relaxed dogs are among the largest. Yet it’s true that size is important (think of a dog that weighs 60 pounds trying to play tug-of-war with the toddler). Large- and medium-breed breeds are okay for families with children. However, they’ll require additional security measures and constant supervision to avoid harm due to the difference in size. However, tiny dogs are also unsuitable because they’re prone to injury (even in a mishap) if a child falls upon them.
Can all breeds be Great with Kids?
Connolly states that certain breeds possess general characteristics that allow them to thrive in a family with children. However, every dog has its unique character. This is why she generally encourages parents of kids to adopt older dogs in foster homes and who have had exposure to children. This gives you a better understanding of what to expect, plus you (ideally) will also enjoy the benefit of not having to go through the potty-training phase. Older puppies tend to be laid-back.
However, if you’re set for a puppy, Connolly suggests watching the parents and previous litters if they are available to get a better image of what’s in store. “If you’re working with a breeder, inform them know that you’re seeking the perfect pet for your family,” she explains. “There are working lines of breeds that can be wonderful pets for families; however, they tend to be very energetic. They must be active and may be quite hyper for families with young children.”
Unfortunately, raising a pet as a puppy doesn’t guarantee the dog will be friendly to children. Connolly admits to seeing many puppies and dogs in her training that exhibit aggression and issues with guarding. Similar to any breed, it is important to start socializing them early., positive reinforcement training and proper physical and physical activity are essential to help puppies grow into safe and healthy pets.
Are Huskies Doing Well with Children?
Connolly says huskies are friendly and affectionate dogs that be great with children. However, she advises prospective pet owners to do their research. ” Familiarize yourself with the breed and the particular dog, if you can,” she explains. ” Huskies can be noisy and require lots of exercises (think long walks and running many miles instead of. an hour-long stroll across the street). They’re also known for running away and running away when they have the opportunity.” Huskies are also destructive when they don’t get enough physical and mental exercise.
These attributes don’t necessarily exclude the huskies as family-friendly. Knowing their character traits and considering their dimensions (adults are between the ages of 35 to 60 pounds, while some are larger) will aid you in setting up your home and routine in a way that will allow your dog to flourish and keep all your children safe, pets as well.
In this regard, Connolly recommends taking the steps listed below to ensure success:
- Let your pet run free in areas with a high, safe fence.
- On leash-led adventures, ensure that you wear a secured collar and leash.
- Be sure to supervise the interactions between your Husky and toddlers.
- Please use exercise pen gates or a crate for a safe environment for your dog, who wants to get away from your kids when they want (and when you’re not in a position to be there to watch).
- Keep your dog engaged. Bred to be work dogs, they must exercise their bodies and brains regularly. Connolly suggests doing this by using the frozen Kongs and other games that your pet can play safely alone.
How to introduce dogs and Children
Connolly says that when introducing dogs and children, it’s recommended to be proactive rather than reacting. If you already have a husky and intend to submit an animal soon, she suggests the following suggestions as a good starting point:
- Since the noise of crying babies could cause distress to dogs, you can play recordings of crying babies to help your dog adjust to the noise.
- Create a secure space (e.g., the crate, exercise pen, or bed) where your dog can escape small hands.
- Create a “go for mat” signal so that you have your hands full of taking care of your baby, and you can request your Husky to go to their spot. This can also be a safe spot for them to go to while the baby is having fun on the ground.
- Your partner or companion assists you in walking your dog while pushing the stroller until your dog is comfortable walking in the stroller.
- If your dog is prone to aggression or behavior that is reactive, think about starting training with a basket muzzle. (Note that using a basket muzzle doesn’t necessarily mean the dog’s behavior is “bad.” It’s a great tool to keep you and your dog secure.)
It’s always a good idea to give your veterinarian a heads-up regarding any changes in your home. They’re in the best position to provide tips on your pet. They may recommend you to a professional animal trainer or vet behaviorist for more thorough preparation. You may also find out if any baby prep classes are offered in your region or online.
If you have small children and plan to add a pet to your family, create areas in which your child and your pet can play safely from each other. If your child is old enough, you may begin teaching them to apply gentle strokes and respect your dog’s privacy to prepare them for how you’d like to be in the future with your pet.
When the dog has settled in your home, it is time to start with focused socialization and positive reinforcement classes. Adult canines can also be socialized; it takes extra time, patience, and effort. This is particularly important for dogs taken from shelters or unable to receive proper socialization while they were puppies.
If you’re introducing a new pet or human into your house, it’s of utmost importance to never let your children be in the company of your dog, regardless of your breed’s physical size and temperament. In reality, neither dogs nor children can be entirely predictable, and even the most intelligent intentions could lead to incidents. If you observe any reactivity, anxiety, or other worrying behavior from pets at any time, contact your trusted veterinarian and trainer to get help. They will assist you in finding the solution.