Guidelines for adopting with young children in the family

Animal Friends Connection is dedicated to matching pets and families together in loving forever homes. Adopters must be at least 21 years old to adopt a pet from AFC.

Often the question is asked about how old children should be before adopting a puppy or kitten. Many experts agree that children experience many benefits from growing up alongside dogs and cats.

Often times though the best match for young families is not a puppy/kitten, rather an adult dog or cat.

Here are some reasons why:

Puppies and kittens are fragile.

They are tiny and can be easily overlooked by young children and stepped on, severely injuring the animal whose bones are not yet developed. This is not only dangerous for the pets, but children can easily trip and fall over the pets, hurting themselves. Children often want to carry them around which frightens the puppies or kittens that are now squirming to get away, therefor children drop them and they are injured and become permanently frightened of children.  Small-breed dogs and puppies generally tend to be more nervous and frighten much more easily than larger breed dogs. This can lead to the dogs nipping or growling at young children who aren’t aware of how to properly interact with small animals.

Puppies and kittens have not learned manners yet.

Unfortunately, dogs and cats do not train themselves! Young children are sometimes frightened by the energy level of young pets and do not know how to react to them. Until puppies and kittens are fully trained, they may scratch, nip, jump, etc. This is not due to aggression, the pet simply does not know better because they have not been trained. Regardless, these behaviors are understandably frightening to young children.

Puppies, in particular, require a lot of work!

They are not house trained and have not gone through obedience training. Sometimes, puppy training coupled with the care required by babies and toddlers can prove overwhelming to parents. If dogs are not properly trained and socialized during their formative months, they can develop lifelong behavioral problems.

Children, just like puppies and kittens, go through different socialization and developmental stages.

For example, children 3-4 years of age are still learning impulse control. Sudden outbursts, or impulsive grabs at a pet might frighten them and cause an adverse, frightened response. Sadly, if puppies and kittens have negative experiences with children during their socialization period, they can develop a lifelong fear of small children. Between ages 5-7, children learn empathy and are better equipped to treat dogs and cats properly, with help from their parents. Be aware that boys under the age of 9 are the most common victims of dog bites.

Puppies and kittens under 6 months old are best-matched with families whose youngest child is 7 years of age or older, unless the puppy in question is a small breed.

Small breed puppies (under 30lbs full-grown) and toy breed adults (under 15lbs) are best-matched with families whose youngest child is 8 years of age or older.

Our goal is to place pets in lifelong forever homes, with these guidelines Animal Friends Connection is better able to assist you in finding the best match for your family and the dog or cat.

Thank you for understanding