Kids being responsible for dogs


Do you see that nervous twitch in the breeder’s eye?

What has caused this?

Often as breeders we hear the sentence :

“I want a dog so that it can teach my kid/s responsibility” – or a slight variation on a theme.  Depending on how the breeder is feeling at the time, combined with their past experiences (both good and lots of bad often), you may hear the following response:

“I’m sorry I can’t help you” – or a slight variation on a theme.

Often what a breeder will hear when you say you want the dog to teach the kid responsibility is:

    • When my kid gets sick of it, the dog will languish in the backyard until we dump it at the pound or with someone else
    • I will blame the breeder because of the dog’s poor behaviour. He/she should have known that a kid can’t be responsible for a dog.  In fact, I want my money back, and I’m going to make sure everyone in the world learns how irresponsible they were to sell me a pup.
    • It’s not my fault that my dog is un-groomed. The kid was supposed to groom it, and the pup has failed to teach it responsibility.
    • The reason my dog is sick is because it was the kid’s responsibility to check on it, and the kid has failed to do such. It’s not my fault.
    • My dog goes hungry at least 2 days a week because my kid forgets to feed it. That dog has been a really poor teacher of responsibility.
    • I am so not taking my dog to dog training lessons. That’s my kid’s responsibility.
    • My dog can’t walk properly on the leash because my kid failed to teach it. Not my fault!


If you’ve bred dogs long enough you may be unlucky to hear of the above scenarios, either you’ve had an owner say it to you directly, or you’ve heard it through the grapevine.

Perhaps you are aghast that a breeder could even interpret your words to the above sentences, and you certainly did not want them to “hear” those messages.  If that is the case, rather than say that you want “the dog to teach the child responsibility”, is there possibly a much more sensible and sensitive way of getting your message across that demonstrates you mean something quite different?

After all, breeders are not mind readers.  They don’t want to put words in your mouth.

I would like to tell you what to say, but I think it’s important you think about what you really want to achieve through having a pup.

When I place my puppies, I want to nicely be able to say “I’m sorry my pups don’t come with a 3 year qualification in child behaviour” without sounding like a smart aleck.    Nor do I want to sound rude and say, “If you think a pup is going to teach your child responsibility, you need to go back and get some better parenting lessons.”


So why are breeders being so ‘”difficult”?

Good, caring breeders want their dogs to end up in homes that will truly optimise the possible relationship between humans and dogs, while taking full advantage of the endless possibilities that exist to have a well trained dog.

No breeder ever wants to have to rescue a dog from an inappropriate situation, or have to re-home a dog that is badly behaved.  Breeders around the world are currently tearing their hair out, so to speak, with owners who haven’t properly taken on board the amount of time and work required to raise a pup properly.  Many breeders treat the responsibility of raising a pup as a very serious process, and not something that can be delegated to a child.

Despite what people may think, there is not 1000 people lined up at a breeder’s door wanting to buy a badly behaved older dog that a puppy person has returned with no training.  Nobody wants a barking, jumping, biting lunatic.  No breeder wants to hear “this dog would do much better back with you”.  What do you think the breeder wants with that badly behaved dog?  In some cases, yes, a breeder will be taking that dog to the vet on a one way trip.

Personally, I believe raising a pup to be an easy and joyful process.  But that’s just me.  I’ve always been good with that sort of thing.  I am certainly in the minority.  The vast majority of people will find raising a pup to be lovely at times, but often frustrating, difficult, exasperating, and be wanting to throw in the towel.  If you see a well behaved dog – well that’s the result of a lot of work, not just a lucky person.

Please don’t under-estimate the time you will need to put into raising a pup.  Please do not overestimate your ability to train a pup.  Take your dog to dog training every week for at least the first year of their life, and run mini training sessions every single day.  You the adult is accountable for this, and for the grooming, and for the meals, and for the vet visits, etc.  Never a child.

And please, after reading this that you believe that your child should be responsible for raising a pup, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to help you with a puppy.

2 thoughts on “Kids being responsible for dogs

  1. Nicole St. Mary

    Hi! We live in the United States and are preparing to get a PWD puppy this month. I had read an article you had for kids on how to handle a new dog. When I just went to your site I can’t find it! Would it be possible to get a copy of that article? It is hard to find good information for children. Thank you!

    • Jane

      Hi Nicole,

      I’m in the midst of updating the site entirely, and have yet to update that particular page which does need some work.

      But in the interim, here’s a quick copy (excuse the lack of formatting) from the old site:

      Now, keep in mind those questions when you read through this page.

      This is our Harry Potter! Hi there. My name is Jane. I am the person who owns the dogs that your pup came from. I was really happy to place my pups with so many wonderful families. We’ve kept a pup ourselves. That’s is pictured on the right. His name is Harry Potter and if you click on the picture it will make it bigger.

      Given that we have little Harry Potter living with us, we also know that if you’re having any trouble with your pup, we’ve probably seen the same thing here. This might be biting, house training, or eating your shoes! – We’ll talk about how to deal with those all a little bit later.

      So, sit down and read this, or get your mum or dad, or another older person to help you understand all that I’m talking about. My son William, who is 9 and who has grown up with water dogs, has also helped contribute to putting this page together.

      Ok, I bet it is very exciting to have your little pup. We have pups all over Australia. Some are in Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, and other places. We even sent one overseas! He travelled in a safe crate and slept the whole way to his new family.

      It was sad for us to see them go, but we know that they should bring you and your family lots of pleasure in their new homes.

      I’ve got some notes below that I want you to pay attention to, and I’ll put a little test at the end and you can complete that to check if you’re understanding how best to look after your pup.

      Coming to your home
      Your pup has been part of a large family that they have become very used to. So, it’s going to be very strange for the pup to move away to your home. The first 2-3 days are the toughest, and it can seem a little hard at first.
      Your pup may be a little scared, and it will definitely be lonely and worried if it will fit in ok.

      It’s really important during this period that you do what you can to make the pup feel safe. This means, don’t play too much with them, and don’t put them in situations where they may be scared. If they look a little worried, then I find that sitting on the floor, and letting them come to me to feel comfortable works well. If you take it slowly within a few short moments the pup will gain confidence. Remember, they are still a little baby.

      I know your friends will want to see the pup, but don’t take them out to too many places too early on. Sometimes this can make them a little sick because they get over-whelmed with all the new things you are showing them. So, take it easy with them, and don’t push them too hard.

      As I would have explained to your parents, your puppy has to eat a completely natural diet. This means they should eat plenty of raw meaty bones. These must always be raw and never, ever cooked. Chicken – raw of course – are a good source of food. So are fresh whole fish like sardines and mullet. Make sure your pup eats them all raw. Eggs are also good. Keep in mind, dogs are carnivores. So they need to eat real meat products. Don’t let anyone tell you that dogs need rice, or veggies, or fruit, or oats or toast. These must not be fed.
      Don’t ever feed your pup milk or bread or rice or oats. A dog’s tummy does not do best eating those sorts of food. And of course, as your dad and mum will tell you, dog food that comes out of a can or a packet is definitely nowhere near good enough for your pup. For your pup to grow strong and healthy, they need to have plenty of raw meaty bones.

      And always be sure that they have plenty of cool clean drinking water.

      Playing with your pup
      I bet you love playing with your pup! I sure love playing with my little girl. It’s lots of fun, and they seem to have lots of energy. But they have sharp teeth, don’t they?!
      It’s really important that you don’t ever encourage them to bite you. I know it can seem like fun, but it can be very painful, and you don’t want them play biting with you as you get older, as it will really hurt then! I’ve told your mum/dad the best books to buy. I’ve got a list of them at the bottom of this page, so maybe you can read some of them.

      If your puppy does bite you, it’s a good sign that they may be getting a little too excited. This means, it’s time to let them play by themselves. Perhaps there is a puppy toy they can plan with to distract them from biting you. Always ask mum or dad for help if the pup is biting. They really don’t mean to harm you, but they just need to know that they can’t do it. And it may take a little bit of time for them to learn.

      Also, you want to make sure that the pup does not jump up on you. I know they are little pups now, but soon they will be much bigger. It’s important that you don’t encourage them to jump up. It’s cute now, but imagine what it would be like when they are adults and weigh about 24 kg. Now that’s very heavy.

      With my puppy, I always bend down to pet her, or sit on the floor so that she doesn’t need to jump up. Ask for help from Mum and Dad when you need it.

      My dogs don’t sleep in my bed. I prefer her to sleep in their own beds because soon they are going to be much bigger and they can’t all snuggle up to me!
      Your pup will need to spend lots of time sleeping. So when your puppy is asleep, let them lie there and re-gain all their energy so that they can play with you again soon. Also, when the pup sleeps is when they grow, and they need to be able to get plenty of sleep so their little bodies can grow properly.

      Exercise and training
      Your pup loves getting exercise. But don’t overdo it. If you do take them out for a walk, make sure that it’s a short walk only, and that your pup is wearing a collar and leash at all times.
      Your pup should be very intelligent. You can teach your pup all sorts of fun things now, like sitting, and shaking hands, and rolling over.

      We suggest using small pieces of food for a reward to your pup when they do the right thing. Don’t ever smack your pup. That’s cruel. No one likes being smacked, including your pup, and we all do best when we’re help to do the right thing, rather than punished for making mistakes.

      Hopefully mum or dad can take your pup to puppy school. We suggest using a type of training called, “clicker training”, as your pup will learn really quickly this way and become much more fun.

      House Training
      Pups need to be shown where they can toilet. We like ours to go outside and do their business in the garden. I will say, “Come on Splash, do your busi”. “Busi” is short for “business”, as in “doing your business”.
      You will need to take your pup outside after they have a bit of a sleep, a play, and after eating. Usually they get the hang of doing a little wee quite quickly.

      Puppies sometimes have accidents inside. They are pretty easy to clean up. Mum or dad might have a “doggy” towel to use. Always remember, when the pup has an accident, they didn’t mean to do it. They just forgot, or didn’t get outside quickly enough.

      Your pup, just like my pup Harry Potter, loves toys. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on toys. Actually Harry Potter likes to play with empty plastic bottles and icecream containers.
      Make sure the toys are safe for your pup and that they can’t chew off bits and swallow them.

      They will try and play and be rough with your toys if you leave them out. My boy Will has had to learn to put all his toys away otherwise Harry Potter will play with them. It really makes him learn how to clean up his room. So remember – don’t blame the pup for chewing up your toys or your shoes – you have to learn to put them away! Otherwise your pup will think that you’ve left them out for them to play with!

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