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Hello! I've been lurking on here for a bit. I'm currently taking a break from fostering for the local shelter, but I still keep regular contact with them. I was hoping to get your input on the following as well as some other things.

Large family comes to shelter to adopt a dog. They initially tried to go through a breeder for a Great Danes for either a puppy or an adult, but they got turned down. When asked why they decided on Great Danes, the parents loved their gentle, loving temperament. Family consists of the parents and four children: one 16 year old and triplets, all three 6 years old. The parents have owned large dogs before the kids came along and both work full time. The 16 year old knows how to interact with dogs. The young ones are ok but are still loud and rowdy. The home life of the family is what could only be described as organized chaos. They end up falling in love with a 3 yr old shepherd mix who was a little smaller than what the parents wanted but still a great match.

1. So that got me thinking, would your dog be ok in a large family (4+ kids)? Why?
2. If you are a reputable breeder of your breed, what would your policy be for large families?
3. If you are in rescue, would you always recommend an adult in this situation?

I'd love to hear what you guys think.
 

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It would probably be far too chaotic for my old man (8y/o "mini" poodle - he's oversized), who likes his calm and has trouble handling situations where he feels out of control. If the kids were very good with dogs or had a naturally calmer temperament themselves he might do okay, or maybe if he grew up in a family environment, it's hard to say. He's overall a great little dog, just likes a predictable structure to his life. I think my youngest (1.5y/o Lagotto Romagnolo) would do great in a dog-savvy family household, and he's always liked kids despite there being none in our household or family/friend groups. I say dog-savvy, because he absolutely needed to be taught to take breaks and settle, chill, or nap when he gets overstimulated and overtired, and that'd probably be even more true in a higher energy household. I suspect that once he's a proper adult, he'd get along just about everywhere that was prepared for his higher-than-average stimulation needs and sensitive nature.

I'm not a breeder or in rescue, but as a dog nerd in general my attitude tends towards taking each case individually rather than making blanket policies. I understand that most reputable breeders are better able to do this than many shelters and rescues, just due to the difference in volume of dogs/puppies being placed. When you do two-three litters a year, say 20-30 puppies max (depending heavily on breed and luck), that's hugely different to hundreds or thousands of dogs even a small shelter might be placing yearly, and the pool of applicants needed to screen is almost always bigger than number of dogs placed. So I absolutely understand how policies like "no fenced yard" or "no intact animals in the home" or "no children under X" get put into place, and really don't blame places for having them, but I'm also friends with wonderful, way above average dog owners who have gotten burned by these blanket restrictions and now only consider breeder dogs or private rehomes.

For this particular case, because the kids have never lived with a dog, I think an adult would be a great choice, especially with three six-year-olds and bigger dogs. I do think puppies absolutely work out for some families, but getting past the puppy nipping and physical development that makes potty training extra hard with babies can only be a huge plus with small kids, imo. I would be a little curious about why the breeder turned them down, but having also been in the position of being told by our youngest's breeder "I have several great candidate homes and can't guarantee you'll be my final choice", I know that it doesn't always mean something's 'wrong', just that someone else was a better fit from the breeder's perspective.
 

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It would probably be far too chaotic for my old man (8y/o "mini" poodle - he's oversized), who likes his calm and has trouble handling situations where he feels out of control. If the kids were very good with dogs or had a naturally calmer temperament themselves he might do okay, or maybe if he grew up in a family environment, it's hard to say. He's overall a great little dog, just likes a predictable structure to his life. I think my youngest (1.5y/o Lagotto Romagnolo) would do great in a dog-savvy family household, and he's always liked kids despite there being none in our household or family/friend groups. I say dog-savvy, because he absolutely needed to be taught to take breaks and settle, chill, or nap when he gets overstimulated and overtired, and that'd probably be even more true in a higher energy household. I suspect that once he's a proper adult, he'd get along just about everywhere that was prepared for his higher-than-average stimulation needs and sensitive nature.

I'm not a breeder or in rescue, but as a dog nerd in general my attitude tends towards taking each case individually rather than making blanket policies. I understand that most reputable breeders are better able to do this than many shelters and rescues, just due to the difference in volume of dogs/puppies being placed. When you do two-three litters a year, say 20-30 puppies max (depending heavily on breed and luck), that's hugely different to hundreds or thousands of dogs even a small shelter might be placing yearly, and the pool of applicants needed to screen is almost always bigger than number of dogs placed. So I absolutely understand how policies like "no fenced yard" or "no intact animals in the home" or "no children under X" get put into place, and really don't blame places for having them, but I'm also friends with wonderful, way above average dog owners who have gotten burned by these blanket restrictions and now only consider breeder dogs or private rehomes.

For this particular case, because the kids have never lived with a dog, I think an adult would be a great choice, especially with three six-year-olds and bigger dogs. I do think puppies absolutely work out for some families, but getting past the puppy nipping and physical development that makes potty training extra hard with babies can only be a huge plus with small kids, imo. I would be a little curious about why the breeder turned them down, but having also been in the position of being told by our youngest's breeder "I have several great candidate homes and can't guarantee you'll be my final choice", I know that it doesn't always mean something's 'wrong', just that someone else was a better fit from the breeder's perspective.
I too am more of a case by case person, as is the shelter I fostered for. I suppose policy is not the right word for those question. Starting point or general guideline would have been better words. Because even though every situation is different and should be viewed as such, there are patterns that arise that one cannot ignore.

I think the breeder turned them down because the family's living situation, while stable for the potential dog in question, was weird. From what I heard from the adoption counselor who handled this case, they are long term renters of a house with a nice fenced yard. Their landlord, being a dog lover himself, allows them to own any type of dog if they pay additional pet rent. The breeder they initially approached required as a blanket policy written confirmation from landlord if prospective buyers rented. The family was able to provide that. Breeder thought it was too good to be true, so he confirmed with their landlord. It was true. When the breeder asked why long term rent instead of own, they said that they were living in an area with outrageous home prices because of really good schools. They (white collar parents) couldn't afford to own a home in that area, but they still wanted their kids to have a good education, so they struck a deal with the landlord that they could rent in the area until all the kids go to university. After, the parents would relocate to an area with lower cost of living. I'm sure to the breeder all this would have been easier if the family owned, but alas, reality is different.

While I respect the breeder's decision, I cannot help but feel confused. For the potential Great Dane, it still would have been a good home. With the triplets being six years old, it would be another twelve years (or more if they take gap year or community college) before they go to university. The older child is going to community college before university. The family would still be living in the same place for twelve plus years. That's more than enough time for a Great Dane. All that is moot now anyway, as they have another dog now.

You have a Lagotto? Wow! That's awesome!
 

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Yeah, sounds like it was probably a case of the breeder having other interested homes that had - from their perspective - more secure living arrangements. We almost didn't get Frodo because we're renters with only a little yard and a DIY temporary fencing solution, but we were also the only family expressing interest in trying to show or do dog sports/activities, so I guess that tipped it in our favor. One of those situations where it's really no one's fault, the breeder just has to make the best choice with the information they have and what their gut is telling them. I know there's a ton of demand right now too due to so many people having more time at home, which is making things harder and causing some extra worry about what might happen with these puppies (and dogs, and other pets) when people's schedules return to normal.

I do get people asking me about getting dogs occasionally (since I'm a known Dog Nerd in my non-dog-people friendship circle), and I basically default to suggesting an adult dog if there's kids or it's a first dog or they need a dog whose tolerant of being alone for a workday. I'll often even tell them to look at dogs that are 3+, because a lot of adolescents are surrendered for... being adolescents, and while they absolutely deserve homes too, it's not the easiest age to start out with if you're not prepared for it. People don't realize how much work puppies and adolescents are. Heck, I forgot myself before we brought our youngest home (who, to be fair, is A Lot Of Dog compared to our mature, pet-bred, Craigslist poodle, haha). I do not understand how some people do puppy raising alongside babies or toddlers. Seriously, those are superstars right there.

He is pretty awesome! I've been interested in the breed for a long time, and while living with one has had a learning curve, I do not regret a second of it. Frodo's a wonderful little guy. Hoping that in the next couple years I'll actually be able to make good on that intention to do a couple shows and sports - our region literally shut down the exact weekend that would've been his first show. Bummer, but we have lots of time to get back to it once we're living in a post-pandemic world.
 

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It wouldn't be 4 kids that is the biggest issue IMO for placing a stable, adult shelter dog of a medium or large breed.

Its the triplet 6 year olds. They are not old enough to be left unsupervised with a dog IMO nor to be able to provide much care beyond say, refilling water or tossing a tennis ball for fetch. Which could easily dump a lot of the care on the teenager if parents work full time. Plus, 3 kids that age can be pretty overwhelming (a friend has an 8 year old and twin 6 year olds, good kids but normal kids and whew, its busy there)

If the ages were spread out so that only say, 1 of the 4 kids was under aged 8, I'd be much more inclined to place a dog.

Long term renters with permission, I would be OK with any dog except commonly breed restricted dogs. Breed restricted dogs I would be OK with going to renters if a)there tends to be a fair amount of rentals on the marker each year allowing all breeds or b)they would be likely to move into a owned home rather than another rental should their situation change
 

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It wouldn't be 4 kids that is the biggest issue IMO for placing a stable, adult shelter dog of a medium or large breed.

Its the triplet 6 year olds. They are not old enough to be left unsupervised with a dog IMO nor to be able to provide much care beyond say, refilling water or tossing a tennis ball for fetch. Which could easily dump a lot of the care on the teenager if parents work full time. Plus, 3 kids that age can be pretty overwhelming (a friend has an 8 year old and twin 6 year olds, good kids but normal kids and whew, its busy there)

If the ages were spread out so that only say, 1 of the 4 kids was under aged 8, I'd be much more inclined to place a dog.

Long term renters with permission, I would be OK with any dog except commonly breed restricted dogs. Breed restricted dogs I would be OK with going to renters if a)there tends to be a fair amount of rentals on the marker each year allowing all breeds or b)they would be likely to move into a owned home rather than another rental should their situation change
The triplets were a point of contention when the family came. The adoption counselor, who's a good friend of mine, made the same observations you did. From what I heard, the teenager was very proactive and interested in the care of the dog and was actually the one who found the initial Great Dane breeder. They understood that the triplets couldn't do much. I don't necessarily think the teenager would be saddled with most of the care just because the parents work full time. Maybe it's because the parents I know who work full time with children are still able to be the primary caregiver to their dog(s).

Max, the 3 yr old shepherd mix that the family ended up taking home, overall was a good match. I worked with him quite a bit, and he was a dream to handle. Biddable, mellow, moderate activity level, loved and accepted handling from children young and old. I was able to have a day with him a couple of times and took him downtown for a stroll, and he handled those outings like a champ. I am confident that he's in his forever home.

The shelter does do follow ups on a case by case basis, and this is definitely one of the cases where a follow up is in order.
 

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When I started in rescue, I was all for case by case with kids. As time passed, I got to where I wouldn't even consider anyone with young children. Of course I was dealing with Rottweilers and Rottie mixes, but I think it would have been the same with pretty much any breed. I know there are families with kids who have dogs and everything's just fine, but I didn't want to take responsibility for what often goes wrong, and the biggest problems I saw were with parents. For instance, one home that came highly recommended - mother was a vet tech, had a small child but said all the right things. When I got the call to come take the dog back because he'd bitten the mother, I found out she had been letting the kid go up to the dog when he was chewing things and take the chew away, tease the dog with it. It was the grace of God he didn't bite the kid.

The last time I even investigated a home with a kid they already had a Rottie and wanted to adopt another. The kid was supposedly good with dogs. While I was there the kid constantly pestered the dog I'd brought to meet them and finally tried to take away a toy the mother had just given the dog. "But she does that all the time with our dog." Great. The dog my family had when I was a kid was a saint too, but not every dog is.

I knew other people who did rescue and of smaller breeds who came to feel the same way I did. One quit and told me, "I just can't bring myself to adopt one more dog to a family with kids." One of the best dogs I ever had in rescue came back to me years after I adopted her to what seemed like a perfect home with an unmarried woman. The woman married, had a baby, and lo and behold called to give a grand dog back. Millie spent her last years with me.

I came to have a strong preference for people past child-bearing age and gay couples.
 

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When I started in rescue, I was all for case by case with kids. As time passed, I got to where I wouldn't even consider anyone with young children. Of course I was dealing with Rottweilers and Rottie mixes, but I think it would have been the same with pretty much any breed. I know there are families with kids who have dogs and everything's just fine, but I didn't want to take responsibility for what often goes wrong, and the biggest problems I saw were with parents. For instance, one home that came highly recommended - mother was a vet tech, had a small child but said all the right things. When I got the call to come take the dog back because he'd bitten the mother, I found out she had been letting the kid go up to the dog when he was chewing things and take the chew away, tease the dog with it. It was the grace of God he didn't bite the kid.
I think that's a fair position to have. Truthfully, I'm somewhere between pure case by case and pure "we must follow the rules spelled out no matter what" when it comes to kids. Granted, I do lean more toward case by case. Probably because the shelter I fostered and still volunteer for runs on a first come first serve basis, and the director wants to give every adopter a fair shot instead of never getting back to them .

I think when you're in rescue, breeder, or even just a dog person, you see loose patterns amongst adopters and buyers. The specifics of each are, of course, going to be different. However, the recommendations given are relatively consistent. Heck, even on this forum, if there's a user who is asking for breed recs and has kids, most people are probably going to answer "get an adult who's proven good with kids". If there's a user who has demonstrated that they have done some preliminary research in what they want, most people are going to encourage the user to get what they want etc.

Parents can definitely be a problem. I've dealt with some pieces of work myself. I've had a similar experience as you with a Rott/Chow foster (named Mac) with RG funnily enough. The family (parents and small boy) lost their beloved Chow a couple months prior, and they fell in love with Mac. Adoption counselor and I tried to steer them away to another dog, as RG and a small kid is bad bad bad. The father insisted that because they had Chow experience, they should have him. The kid was actually pretty respectful of the dog and followed my directions well. The father was a collar jerking idiot; he jerked Mac around, and by the fifth pop, Mac swing around and bit him in the forearm. The mother wanted Mac put down, with the belief that dogs should have to accept all the bull****. The adoption obviously didn't go through. The parents got red-flagged, but the director said if the kid wanted to adopt a dog someday, he's welcome to come back. Mac was later adopted by another family.

The last time I even investigated a home with a kid they already had a Rottie and wanted to adopt another. The kid was supposedly good with dogs. While I was there the kid constantly pestered the dog I'd brought to meet them and finally tried to take away a toy the mother had just given the dog. "But she does that all the time with our dog." Great. The dog my family had when I was a kid was a saint too, but not every dog is.
I got plenty of those experiences too. At our shelter, the adoption counselor mostly handles the people, and the fosters mostly deal with the dogs. Of course if there's interest in a fostered dog, both will be present to meet potential adopters.

I knew other people who did rescue and of smaller breeds who came to feel the same way I did. One quit and told me, "I just can't bring myself to adopt one more dog to a family with kids." One of the best dogs I ever had in rescue came back to me years after I adopted her to what seemed like a perfect home with an unmarried woman. The woman married, had a baby, and lo and behold called to give a grand dog back. Millie spent her last years with me.
Yeah. I had those thoughts too. The dogs that find forever homes keep me going. The heart to heart discussions with the director, staff, and volunteers keep me going. The adopters who do their research keep me going. The kids who are respectful to the dogs despite their parents being idiots keep me going. My current break in fostering is not because I quit, but because I had to take a pay cut to not lose my job. Once I am in a more stable situation, I will start fostering again. Until then, I am volunteering.

I came to have a strong preference for people past child-bearing age and gay couples.
That's fair.
 
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