February 13th, 2014

It is a very commonly held belief that rescue or shelter dogs are not suitable for homes with children. Let me set you straight right now, this is a myth! While it is true that there are dogs in shelters (and in people’s homes, of course) that are less kid friendly than others, it is most definitely true that many shelter pooches will not only tolerate but will really love and enjoy the company of kids.  

sebastion and little girl 2 copy

One of the founding principles of Pixie Project is that we are a family friendly animal shelter.  What does this mean? This means that regardless of your family make up, whether you are a family of two or six, have other animals or not, we will work with you to find just the right addition to your home. While we would love to help every family in their search find a perfect Pixie pooch, we realize that there are many great shelters and rescues out there and we fully support adopting from any of them!   In order to help eager adopters navigate the shelter adoption process, here are a few tips and tricks to help you asses if the dog you are interested in is good fit for your home with children.

Observe the pooch in his kennel:

Is he shy or reserved at the back of his kennel or is he up at the front seeking attention and responding warmly to your presence (think “wiggly”)?

We know a shelter environment can be stressful for dogs (no matter how comfy shelter staff try to make it!) which can lead to some dogs seeming more shy or shut down than they will be in a home, but whether the dog is truly shy or just reacting to the environment, when I am looking for a family with kids I always skip the quiet, nervous pooches.  Kids are going to be very excited (understandably!) about the new addition to their family and will want to be petting and playing with that dog from the moment it comes home. Shy dogs take more time to settle and will need extra support in acclimating to a new home.   Most will be uncomfortable with handling at the beginning, so time with the kids will have to be well managed.   Overall it’s much better for everyone to find a dog that will actively engage with the whole family right out of the gate!

Bring treats!

Whenever I am talking to families about shelter visits I always encourage them to take treats along. Good ones! Not milk bones’¦more like string cheese or HOT DOGS, yum! Once you have selected a potential pooch ask the shelter staff if they can take him out of his kennel for some one on one time. Once in the meet and greet room have both parents and child feed treats. If the dog is wary or does not want to take treats from the child move on to the next dog. Whether or not a doggie is willing to eat is a good barometer of the animal’s stress level. Not eating the super yummy treats you brought with you means the pooch isn’t feeling totally comfortable, so move on the next sweet doggie.

Does the doggie looooove your kiddo?

 It is not uncommon for kids to be a bit overwhelmed by doggies that want to jump on them, kiss them, play with them and love them. It can seem like a lot at first but these behaviors are easily managed with training. The key element here is that the dog actively engages the child and is curious and happy to be around them.  You can teach a dog to sit calmly, but you can’t change their basic temperament!


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    510 N.E. MLK Blvd.
    Portland, OR 97232

    Phone: (503) 542-3432
    Fax: (503) 542-3437

    Tuesday-Friday 11:00 - 6:00
    Saturday 11:00 to 4:00