The Golden Retriever consistently tops the list of most popular family pets. With its easygoing temperament and fondness for children, this breed often forms remarkable bonds with its young human "pack mates."
As your children grow older and become mature enough, you can help them become more involved in caring for your family's Golden. This is a wonderful opportunity for your kids to learn important lessons in responsibility and compassion. Just remember that their relationship needs to be nurtured and guided by an adult because children aren't any more prepared to handle a dog than a dog is prepared to handle children.
How kids can help handle doggie care
Grooming—When your child is old enough, they can participate in simple grooming tasks, like brushing. An adult should supervise to make sure this is done gently and in the direction that the hair grows. Your child can also help you give your dog a bath. Leave the toenail clipping to an adult—many dogs just aren't predictable when getting a nail trim.
Exercise—If your Golden is well trained, a child that's mature enough and strong enough can start walking him alone. Remind your child that exercise doesn't always have to be just walking—a game of ball or Frisbee in the backyard is a fun alternative. If you have any hesitation about your dog obeying your child's commands, you may want to have an adult accompany them when they go out to play.
Feeding—Many kids starting at age 10 can start to become responsible for feeding their Goldens, as long as the dog has accepted the child as above him in the family hierarchy. You will need to ensure that this duty is done properly every day, and it should be done only with adult supervision.
9 Golden rules you should tell your kids
- Respect your dog's "personal space"—this means not touching or bothering him when he's eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom.
- Don't surprise your dog. If he's sleeping, don't come up from behind and pet him. It could make him scared or angry enough to bite.
- Don't run right toward a dog, as this can frighten him.
- Screaming or yelling loudly can upset a dog.
- Pulling a dog's ears, tail, or legs is NEVER a game to a dog—and may cause pain or make him aggressive.
- Just like you, dogs don't like to be teased.
- If your dog lifts his lip and shows you his teeth, it means he wants you to go away.
- If your dog lies down and shows his tummy, he may want it to be rubbed. Just be cautious, this is a sign of submission, not necessarily a request for a tummy rub.
- When a dog isn't feeling well, kids should talk to their parents before petting or playing with the dog. Your pet just might want to be left alone.