Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide for good reason: they are intelligent, lovable, and fun. But if you have a family with young children, you do need to ask yourself, are golden retrievers good with kids?
Fortunately, the short answer is yes! Goldens have the right temperament to be around children of all ages and tend to instinctively know how to interact with them. The breed is also highly trainable, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to teach them what is expected.
But let’s take a closer look. In this article, we’ll take a look at how golden retrievers tend to be around children of different ages and things to look out for in relation to each age group. This will cover a lot of the training the dogs need to be around children, but we will also look briefly at the training children need to safely be around dogs.
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Characteristics Of Golden Retrievers
Golden retrievers have the right character to be around kids and families. And because Goldens are a pure breed, their temperament, size, and intelligence are fairly predictable. So, you can get yourself a puppy from a reputable breeder and expect that, with the right training, they will make a great family pet.
If you are adopting an older dog from a shelter, you do need to be a little more careful as their life experiences may have made them wary and, therefore, aggressive. But if you speak to the staff at the shelter and tell them that you are looking for a dog that will be safe around young children, they will be able to help you identify an appropriate canine companion.
Golden retrievers are a great dog to have around children for a variety of reasons.
First, they are affectionate and will bond with smaller members of the family quickly. They are also playful and energetic, so they will enjoy the company of young children.
Despite being relatively large (55-75 pounds), they tend to be aware of their own size and strength and be gentle when necessary; they also have a soft mouth for picking things up.
While Goldens do have a relatively loud bark, they don’t bark for no reason, so they are unlikely to wake sleeping children without good cause.
They are very intelligent and sensitive and are thus good at understanding what is required from them. They are also highly trainable, so you can teach them specific skills and tasks they might need around children.
But there are also a few things to be wary of when considering a golden retriever as a family pet. Firstly they shed a lot, so kids with allergies or asthma might suffer.
They also need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. While this can be great if you have kids, as they can play with them and keep them active, if you have kids that need special attention, or who spend all day at school and then being ferried between activities, giving a Golden the attention and activity that they need might become challenging. Remember that understimulated dogs tend to become destructive dogs.
Golden Retrievers & Babies
It is worth noting that it is rarely a good idea to introduce both a new baby and a new dog into your household at the same time. You don’t really want to be busy house training a boisterous young puppy or socializing an older shelter dog while also dealing with the demands of a new baby.
If you already have a golden retriever, you will be concerned about introducing your new baby into the household safely. If you are thinking about getting a dog, it is a good idea to wait until your child is at least a toddler.
If you are bringing a baby home to a household with a golden retriever, you should introduce the baby in much the same way that you would another pet. Prepare your dog for the arrival of the baby by giving them things to smell to let them become accustomed to the scent of the child. Also, put things like their crib in place before they arrive so your dog gets used to the idea of them being there.
Once your dog is accustomed to the scent of the baby, you can introduce them into the same room as the baby. Don’t show them the baby, but rather let the dog discover and approach the baby for themselves. Of course, supervise them at all times.
You will probably find that your dog enjoys being close to the baby and will want to do things like sleep under the crib. This is great bonding, but again, supervise, you wouldn’t want them to accidentally knock the crib over when getting up.
It is probably a very good idea to make sure your dog has a good understanding of the sit and stay command at this stage, so you can get them out of the way if you do need to deal with anything urgent, such as exploding baby vomit.
It is also very important at this stage to set ground rules for your dog about where they can and can’t go. For example, they need to know they can never go in the crib or the stroller. You might want to train them that they can never go into your child’s bedroom, or that they can only enter when you are there, or when they are invited.
It is also very important to teach them not to jump up at people. You don’t want your dog unbalancing you when you are holding your child, or jumping up at your child later when they are walking or crawling around.
Golden Retrievers & Toddlers
When your child is a toddler, they will probably have more interest in playing with your golden retriever. They are also probably old enough that you might be able to introduce a puppy into the home.
If you already have a Golden, they will probably be naturally gentle with the baby that they already know. With puppies and new dogs, you will need to take the time to train your dog to be social with children. This isn’t difficult; it is just giving them supervised time around a variety of children, warning them when they behave in an unacceptable way, and rewarding them when they behave correctly.
The biggest challenge at this time can actually be the children, as they may not yet understand soft petting, and they might be curious to do things like pull your dog’s tail. Your dog might naturally react with a bark that could scare your child, or even a nip. So, it is important that you supervise children and also show them how to touch dogs.
Golden Retrievers & Older Kids
Once kids are older, they will probably love playing chase and fetch with your golden retriever, and they will be great for your dog, as they can give them the physical and mental stimulation that they need to thrive.
It is also great for kids at this age to start learning responsibility by taking on some responsibility for the dog. Depending on their age, this could be feeding them, taking them out for their scheduled bathroom break, taking them on walks, and even helping with grooming.
One of the main concerns is that as kids get older, everyone spends more time outside of the house with school and other after-school commitments for the youngsters, and work and other commitments for the adults. This means that your dog might start getting less attention and exercise. This can be difficult for them to deal with, and they can respond by getting into trouble.
Make sure you aren’t falling into the trap of leaving your dog alone for long periods of time, and give members of the family responsibility for taking them out for their daily exercise.
Training Your Kids To Be Around Dogs
It is also important that you teach your children how to interact with dogs safely, and in a way that makes the dog feel safe and secure. These are some of the most important things to teach your children about dogs.
- To pet the dog gently, never pull their hair or tail, and avoid touching parts of the dog that might be sensitive, such as their eyes and belly.
- That there are times when they should not approach the dog, such as when they are sleeping, eating, or chewing a bone.
- Just as your kids have their own bed and toys, so does your dog, and you should teach your child to respect your dog’s space and possessions.
- That not all dogs are the same, and that they shouldn’t approach other dogs in the same way as they do their own dog. For example, they should never touch another dog without the approval of the dog’s owner.
It is also important to remember that younger children should always be supervised around dogs. No matter how well trained your dog or your child, the unexpected happens. You need someone responsible there to deal with the situation.
Golden retrievers make great pets for homes with children as they have the right temperament to be around small people, and they are also highly trainable, so you can teach them the right behavior for interacting with kids.
But it is also important to remember that no matter how well you have trained your dog, you should never leave them alone with smaller children unsupervised. It is also essential that you teach your children how to interact with dogs safely. You can’t expect a dog not to react if a child is hurting them.
Do you have a golden retriever at home with your kids? What are your top tips for making sure that they get along? Share your insights with the community in the comments section below.