PWD & children
Are PWD good family dogs? What are they like with children?
We often have enquiries from families with children of various ages. We are also told by some of these families that they have been turned down by breeders because they have young children. We believe that with good preparation and clear consistent training, of both the puppy and your children, they can be an ideal family dog. You often see research on the benefits of owning a dog from being calming stress-busters, offering emotional support and unconditional love as well as providing the life-long social skills leant from being responsible for the life and care of another creature.
Portuguese Water Dogs get along well with children. Our youngest child went from being petrified of dogs to being Chester’s main trainer. You need to understand, however, that dogs are not human. PWDs will often consider a child as a canine litter mate and could play harder than you would want and they play with their mouths. Therefore it is important that you never let small children be unsupervised with your dog. If something were to happen you would have no way of knowing whose "fault" it was. Did the child tease the dog, pull the tail, or hurt the dog in a way to cause a nip. An accidental bite will always be blamed on the dog. In all fairness, some PWDs are tolerant well beyond normal limits with overly rough physical play. But accidents can still happen and any dog can be pushed to their limits by a child.
Just as you will be training your new pup, you should also set clear ground rules for children in regard to your PWD. A child needs to be told what is allowable and what isn't. When to play and when not to play with a puppy. How to approach and interact with a dog. And if a child is unable to be part of a puppy's guidance, do not let him have any of the responsibilities. If a child is too young to understand how to pick up a puppy, then don't allow it. If a youngster can't be trusted to help with housetraining (crating) then don't make that a child's responsibility. If a child won't pick their toys, clothes up off the floor then they should realize they will be fair game for destruction by any PWD.
Children and PWDs can be the best of buddies. But expect slip-ups with children and PWDs and try to instill reliability in both. Always keep a sharp eye on them when together. Never leave your dog and child alone together.
Children with Specific educational, emotional or behavioural needs:
PWD can be an excellent choice for pupils with Autism (ASC) including Asperger's; and those with ADD, or ADHD; those with depression & anxiety or bullied. As with all children, you will need to carefully match your child’s specific needs to the breed of dog and the temperament of the individual dog.
As with all children (see above) great care will need to be given to how you introduce the dog and child, and how you supervise their time together. The same rules apply to basic training, feeding, crating, toileting & biting for all children regardless of their particular need.
Dogs can have a fantastic effect upon children and PWD can make excellent therapy pets as well as assistance dogs. If you have a child, or adult with specific needs you would be more than welcome to spend some time with our PWD.