How to Spot a Family Friendly Dog
No matter the breed, a dog’s body language speaks volumes. Dog trainer Sue Sternberg has been working with, observing, and training dogs for more than 30 years, and says that the key to finding a family friendly dog is to carefully consider their individual personality and behaviors. Friendliness is the single most important factor that Sternberg looks for in a canine, regardless of their breed. While any dog can bite, a friendly dog is less likely to lead to a dog bite liability insurance claim.
Whether you are purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder or adopting an older dog from an animal shelter, here are some characteristics to look for in a family friendly dog.
Observe the dog’s pack behavior. The way that dogs play and act with each other will tell you a lot about them. You should easily be able to pick out a dominate dog, as well as one that may be overly rough or fearful. A family friendly dog is likely going to be one in the middle; not to rough or mouthy, yet not too fearful as being scared can lead them to bite.
Observe the dog’s barking habits. Sometimes dogs may simply bark because they are excited, or there could be malicious intent behind the bark. This is where being able to read a dog’s body language is beneficial. You should be able to tell if the dog is barking as a way to say “hello” or “stay away from me, I’m scared of you”.
Observe a dog’s body language while handling it. This is especially helpful when purchasing a puppy. If a puppy resists lying on his or her back for example, they may be very stubborn. It’s natural for a dog to resist being on their back a little bit, as this is a submissive position that makes them very vulnerable, however a dog that remains calm or playful is naturally going to be a better family dog than one who snarls, cowers, or bites when handling it.
Check to ensure the dog is not territorial. Try, cautiously of course, taking the dog’s food away or a toy they are currently playing with. They should let you take it without objection. However if the dog growls in warning, barks, or tries to bite, these are all signs that the dog is territorial, and should not be around children whom may not know any better.
If a dog has negative characteristics, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad dog or that they could never be a family dog. If you are an experienced dog owner and have the time and patience to work with your pet, then you may actually be able to rehabilitate the dog. However, these are good guidelines to follow if you are simply looking for a family friendly dog.
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