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Discussion Starter #1
I read the sticky above, but I specifically want peoples' thoughts on toy dogs and mobile children under the age of 6. Hopefully this is the correct section of the forum.

Basically, I am fostering a very small maltese. She is approximately 4#/2kg and an ex-puppy mill dog. I have received an application on her, however, the family has a 3 year old. In my mind, that is a HUGE red flag, but when I mentioned it to another friend in rescue I was treated to a lecture on how I should not "throw an application out because they have a child." and "its up to the parents to step up."

While I agree on both points, I don't think toy dogs should be in homes with small children! There is no parent on earth that can 100% guarantee the safety of the dog. Now, this is true of everyone single pet owner, but a toddler is a walking liability. I work with little kids every day and even the 6 year olds have difficulty with coordination and judgement... because they're still learning. It's one thing is the child accidentally drops a ball but if they drop a toy dog, they can shatter its spine.

I used to volunteer with a toy rescue group and they would not adopt their toy dogs OR ex-PM dogs to people with children under 6. If the child was under 10 they would do an evaluation before passing the adoption.

Your thoughts or experiences?
 

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I believe it is up to the parents to step up, I would rather the puppy have a shot at a home than being put down.
Explain to the parents and make sure they understand how important it is to keep their child and the dog safe. Don't let the child play with the dog without supervision, etc,etc.
 

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There's no PERSON who can 100% guarantee the safety of anything, let alone a dog. I don't think a blanket policy always works. My daughter, now 10, has had a less than 5 lb rabbit living in her room with her since she was 3 years old. Rabbits are extremely fragile. She had her first rabbit when he was 8 weeks old, he was a tiny little thing. She was taught to sit on the floor when handling him, never to walk with him and to be extremely careful when playing with him. She never dropped him, or hurt him in any way. He passed away naturally at age 6. She now has her second rabbit and he is even smaller than the first, same rules apply.

I think it should be on a case by case basis. We have had dogs before we had kids, my kids have grown up with animals. I think you can quickly pick out those that have been taught to respect animals vs. those that haven't. We don't have toy dogs, but the rules are the same. They weren't allowed to pick them up and carry them as puppies, they were taught to leave them alone with food or bones, etc, taught how to pat them and treat them with respect. A blanket no adopters with kids under a certain age isn't always the best way to go, they could be the perfect family for that dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I meant in general, not for this case ^^ But thank you for the replies.

Although in this case there are other issues to consider as well, including the whole family's inexperience with animals. The "pup" is 8 years old and comes from a puppy mill (ex-breeder). She is afraid of many things and very fragile. She is in no danger of being killed or even tossed on the streets, so there's no rush in finding her the perfect placement. I am working with another woman, so she will have her say about the application as well before I speak to the family. I would like to see how their children (3) act around the dog if they're still interested.
 

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This is one of the reasons, I went with a breeder. I had an 8 yr. old, and several of the small breed rescues were immediately off limits to me. Very frustrating!
We have always had small animals, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, cats. My kids were taught from an early age how to treat an animals. I've seen friends with older children who don't know how to behave or handle an animal. Age shouldn't be a deciding factor on adopting, it should be on a case by case basis. You could be denying that dog a wonderful home!

I'm a klutz, I could trip and harm the dog. Should I be denied a chance to adopt because I'm not very graceful? Dog is probably in more danger from me than the kids! LOL
 

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I kept reading "dog toys" and couldn't understand why they were in danger from toddlers and being dropped, and why there should never be dog toys in a home with toddlers. Then realised it's toy dogs :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
LOL, yes, dog toys are in imminent danger from toddlers!

Thanks for the replies guys. It is giving me something to think about. I think an 8 year old is perfectly capable of avoiding a small dog though! I shall leave that rescues' standards debacle out of it though. I don't work with an organization now, so it comes down to my judgement :/ Which is a lot of pressure, hence asking for outside opinions!
 

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An older puppymill dog with issues and a family with a small child that is inexperienced with dogs doesn't sound like a good mix to me. I'd only consider people that have more dog experience whether they have a child or not for such a dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Fuzzy Pants, yes, this was my concern, but my friend took it to mean I was throwing out their application carelessly and they should never have a dog. No matter how many times I didn't think DANBI (dog's name) was not a good fit. That's what sparked the topic. I've never dealt with this situation before (all the animals I have adopted out to either had older children or no children). I also wanted to consider whether it'd be safe to suggest the family try a sturdier, normal dog. There are many maltese for adoption in this area.
 

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I have a 19 weeks old Papillon and a 3 year old son. Our puppy we got at 8 1/2 weeks when he was 3 pounds. My son is a very active, rough and tumble 3 year old. He runs and plays hard. He plays in the dirt and mud and and he loves to be outside. He also has been raised around cats since the day he was born. He knows how to pick up and hold a cat, under the chect and back legs, holding them horizontal to the floor so they arent put off balance, he knows how to be gentle and pet them very easy, especially since 2 of 6 cats are 9 and 10 years old. He also knows how NOT to rub them as our youngest cat 1 year is still a kitten and will scratch him if he is too mean or rough with him. He has learned, sometimes the hard way how to be easy with them. All of this combined with our family's love of animals and my wish to have a pap puppy, propelled us into getting Dexter. My son is amazing with him. At 3 he is old enough to know what a baby is. He knows that a baby is very small, very fragile and we have to be very careful with babies. When we explained to him in words that he knows, that Dexter is a baby, and we have to be very careful with him, my son was the easiest with him. As Dexter has grown and toughened up some, their play has gotten rougher. They run around the back yard, tackling each other now. And on occasion we have to remind him that Dexter is still a baby and to be easy.

If my son had never been around any pet at all to learn how to touch them, hold them and interact with them, then no, a toy puppy would not have been a wise decision at his age.

It really is a case by case decision. You need to see if the young child has experience in interacting with other small animals in a positive way. Do they have catsm rabbits, guinea pigs? Ferrets?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
No animals. The mother had a cat sometime in the past, but this was before the 3 year old was born. Possibly before she was married with children.
 

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While I agree that it absolutely a case by cast situation, I do agree that with a very small child there is cause for concern, regardless of the size of the dog. This isn't a criticism of children, but small children (infants and toddlers, more than preschoolers) have motor control issues, as well as *impulse* control ones. Absolute supervision can help a lot, but it won't stop a child falling on them. At three, though? Unless there's a development delay or other problem (like lousy parenting), they should be okay with a toy breed in the house. Provided it doesn't stress the dog out.

ETA Okay, if kiddo has never been around animals and is three. I have to admit, I'd case by case it, but would likely not adopt to them in THIS case. But I don't have the application in front of me. The other thing to consider is liability if the kid gets bitten, honestly, but I also don't know the DOG.

All of that said, I once adopted a 4lb chi to a home with a young kid, and passed over a single older lady who was home all the time. The dog liked kids. The dog did not much like adults. He was much more confident with a young kid around. He was also a stupid active, ball driven, chi.
 

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I would still have to meet with the family and see how the dog was around them. The child may actually be a quiet low key 3 year old, and the dog may be immediately attracted to her. Who knows. I would still want to see for myself how they interacted. If you bring the dog out to meet them and the chid is running around like a tornado and the dog is so terrified that she wont move, then you know it wont work. That is what I did. I went and met the breeder and Dexter first. He passed with me, but the big test was my son. I went and got my hubs and son. I figured if my son was chattering like usual and moving around like most 3 year olds, the puppy would with move with him or run like he*l. lol The puppy ran with him, tail wagging and tongue lolling. I said, "we'll take him!". If you get this type of reaction that would be wonderful.

To me, it would be worth it to meet them and at least see. You'll know in 5 minutes. Let the dog tell you.
 

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I would still have to meet with the family and see how the dog was around them. The child may actually be a quiet low key 3 year old, and the dog may be immediately attracted to her. Who knows. I would still want to see for myself how they interacted. If you bring the dog out to meet them and the chid is running around like a tornado and the dog is so terrified that she wont move, then you know it wont work. That is what I did. I went and met the breeder and Dexter first. He passed with me, but the big test was my son. I went and got my hubs and son. I figured if my son was chattering like usual and moving around like most 3 year olds, the puppy would with move with him or run like he*l. lol The puppy ran with him, tail wagging and tongue lolling. I said, "we'll take him!". If you get this type of reaction that would be wonderful.

To me, it would be worth it to meet them and at least see. You'll know in 5 minutes. Let the dog tell you.
You won't know in five minutes. What if the kid's just had a nap? What if the kid MISSED a nap to do this? The dog's interactions in a strange environment aren't going to be the same as they will be once it's settled in, either. Yes, meeting is a good idea, but not conclusive. Basing it on what you know of this dog and typical age-appropriate behaviour for the age of the child though, and balancing that with a *longer* visit (spend a couple of hours) might give you more of an idea, but 'kid is quiet and dog seems okay' in the first few minutes is probably not saying a heck of a lot.
 

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^^^^^ This! I have two grandaughters, one will be four in July, the other four in August. The "older" one has two dogs, one huge mix, one Pom. Those dogs let her do anything with them. She does stuff with her own dogs that I don't permit. The other family has no pets and she is very gentle with mine. I babysit my three grandkids (other one is almost 3mos old) and am much more cautious with these kids than I was with my own. My kids both got nipped by our then dog when they were little but to be honest, they deserved it.
For the OP, I'd meet the family like Catdancer said.
 

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I do evaluations for a small dog pet rescue and I would NOT give them this dog. Its not that they couldn't have a dog, but I'd go with something more sturdy and calm - not a mill baby who still has issues.

Sadly I recently had to make a similar determination with a family who wanted a teeny puppy in a house with a kid who had impluse control issues. I ended up offering them an older dog (1 year old) that weighed in at a whopping 10lbs. It was happiness all around. Sometimes a compromise is what's best for everyone.

Sounds like your foster would be a better fit in an adult only home.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Totally derailed this topic, but she's pretty good for a mill dog. She spent 4 years locked in a warehouse as a breeder and then 4 years locked in a cage at the vets. So she did have some socialization prior to me fostering her. BUT before living with me she's never lived in a house before, she's never gone outside before, she's never been picked up and cuddled before, she's never been without another animal companion before and she's extremely passive. She would not nip in self-defense. She's just sit there and take it. She's not overly fearful but she has some powerful mental blocks. My concern is that people don't realize that she's not a normal dog and she'll constantly be learning new things that most of us take for granted with our dogs.
 

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I didn't read the rest of the thread, but wanted to throw in my two cents. We have a 2.5 year old. He is still learning what the "right" way is to interact with animals. We have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of mistreatment of our pets and other animals. Of course giving him time out doesn't always mean that he will stop himself from climbing Zoe like a tree, or grabbing her head roughly, or whatever. Thankfully Zoe seems to treat him with a sort of amused tolerance, and puts up with his antics very well. That said...I would be terrified if we had a small dog. One wrong move and the dog could get hurt. I wouldn't want to risk it.

Should families with small children be written off from having small dogs? I can't say that should 100% be the case, it may depend on each individual family. If I knew for a fact that our son was totally, completely well-behaved around any size dog, I might take amiss to being written off just because we had a small child, but whatever. It's up to the rescue to find the best home for a dog and if they don't feel comfortable adopting to a specific family then they should follow that feeling.
 

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Would I send a small dog with no major issues to a home with a three-year-old who knew how to treat animals? Sure.

Would I send a small dog with issues to a home with a three-year-old who didn't know how to treat animals? Nope.

Also, I have a niece who just turned four. She grew up with a pit bull and a cat, and visits my house regularly (I have 9 and 18lb dogs and three cats). She knows how to treat animals and is great with them almost all of the time. But sometimes she STILL smacks at them, or grabs at tails, or chases Casper pretend-barking even though she knows it scares him. You cannot trust even the most pet-experienced little kid to be good 100% of the time. I wouldn't only evaluate the kid, but I'd evaluate the parent as well -- make sure this person isn't going to leave the pet and kid alone together ever.
 
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