Puppy for 4 Year Old?

Updated on April 22, 2008
P. asks from Allen, TX
5 answers

My daughter turned 4 in December. She asks for a puppy every day. She wants one that will stay small. She met a "yorkie-poo" she liked a lot It's some sort of Yorkshire terrier/poodle mix. I have several questions I was hoping someone might have some advice on!

1. Is my daughter really old enough for a dog?
2. Where is the best place to purchase small dogs?
3. Why are so many of the small dogs I've met in the past so unfriendly whereas big dogs are usually sweet? Is this the norm or just bad luck on my part? :-)
4. Can you recommend a sweet small dog breed that doesn't shed? (I may be dreaming here).
5. I've never crate trained a dog. Is it really the way to go or just a fad?

Please forgive my ignorance!! And thank you so much in advance. I've received some really wonderful advice from you guys on so many topics over the years. It's much appreciated.

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answers from Dallas on

My husband and I have had Cocker Spaniels (both American and English) throughout our almost 20 yr marriage.

When daughter was born, we had 2 Cockers and they were fine with her, no issues. When she was 5 we added a Cocker because our "baby" was 12 and dying with cancer. It was a transition. Again, 3 yrs ago, we added a Cocker to our family because the other "baby" was sick and dying and she was a transition dog as well.

The only issues with our Cockers have been the upkeep. The American Cockers seem to shed more than the English Cockers. A couple of our Cockers have had some ear problems. They are good natured and good dogs overall and not too big.

Now, again 2 yrs ago. My hubby was going to give my daughter a something special because she was testing for her black belt. Before he said no pets, she said poodle. We did get a toy poodle and he is a gem.

I will stick with poodles. They do not shed and we have no allergy issues with him.

Now...from experience....my daughter wanted pets because Cocker #1 and Cocker #2 were "mom's dog" and "dad's dog". Because she did not have full responsibility of feeding, training, etc. the 3 dogs we currently have are "mom's" and "dad's". She gets her feelings hurt because the poodle especially is attached to me. He is my shadow and my new baby. If I had a carry all to wear with him, he would sit in it. He is very loyal and very protective of me.

We have trained using the puppy pads and then get them to the point where they go outside. At night, I take them out around 10 and they are good until about 6am. In the beginning with a new pup, it is much like a new baby. Every night, every 3 hrs or so for a few weeks.

The unconditional love the dogs give us is very rewarding. We love our 3 dogs and watching them. I do not need a door bell and I know every time something is going on around my house.

This was probably TMI but hope it helps.



answers from Dallas on

Hi P., like you I'm also searching for a non shedding small puppy for 3 1/2 yr old daughter. I have done a ton of online research and like you, I still have questions. I have however found out that Maltese and Bichon Frise puppies are some of the smaller dogs that don't shed much. They also suppose to be really good in homes were allergy problems exist. I have been trying to find a puppy through a breeder and I have looked at local shelter sites but have not found the puppy I really want my DD. Hopefully we will get some good answers to the questions you have already asked. I definitely want a kid friendly dog and not one that's really big that look like it belong in the backyard :-)



answers from Dallas on

Hi P.,
I commend you for asking so many questions and doing the research to find the best breed that is going to fit for your family before rushing out and purchasing one! Unfortunately there are so many posts on this site of mom's trying to find new homes for dogs they purchased for their children and they either don't have the time to invest to ensure the animal gets the attention they need or the breed is not a good fit with children. While I don't have a recommendation for a breed (my 2 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are WONDERFUL with children, but they really shed heavily) I would highly recommend crate training. We did this with both our girls (my dogs) and had amazing results in a short period of time. While I originally had the notion that crate training was mean, most dogs really like to have their own space where they feel comfortable and can "escape" to rest on their own. Once my two dogs were fully crate trained, we started placing a baby gate across the door of our laundry room when we leave the house and this works really well. The girls can be together, but are still in a confined space. Dogs need to have limits and boundaries just like kids. :) Good luck finding the perfect breed for your family!!



answers from Dallas on

If you do a breed specific search for Breed clubs in the dallas area you can get recomendatiuon for breeders. I recomend going to Dallas dog shows and meeting people and breeds. DO NOT purchase a dog from a pet store, no matter what they say they 99 percent likely to be puppy mill dogs.

You can also check rescues, while most say they will not adopt oout to younger kids, most will work with you if they have a dog they no to be good with kids. Shelters are not rescues, youc an stil save a wonderful animal, but Will have to put money in vet care.

Smaller dogs can be a good fit, but often times are intimidated by kids, kids pick more on small breeds, they lok more like toys to them.



answers from Dallas on

Hi P.:

I have had all sizes of dogs but prefer smaller breeds. We have yorkies and they shed little, just keep them groomed and hair short. Small dogs are usually the "babies" of the family so they may feel in competition with young children.

We had a yorkie when our daughter was born 14 yrs. ago and he was not crazy about her. Though he never hurt her and was curious, the tone we used with her was the same we used with him. We still babied him, but he became the "dog" once she arrived. He was older and died when she was about 2. We got another when she was 4 and another when she was 8. They are fun and love her (the older one is very protective of her) and they are treated as the little ones, yet more as dogs than our first yorkie so many years ago.

With young children you have to make sure they do not "love" the puppy too hard as they can hurt them and the dogs may nip at them. You also have to watch small kids from pulling on the dog's ears or tails. I have younger nephews and they always want to play rough, which the dogs love, but the kids did not know when to stop and therefore would get bit or scratched. Nothing too hard but enough to let the boys know to leave them alone.

If babies are around be very careful. Babies will grab something and keep their fist clinched around whatever they are holding. A dogs fur or skin will get pinched and the dog will snap at the baby.

Our 2 yorkies are great and have always got along well with our daughter but often this breed is not as favorable with young kids. A mix breed such as a yorkie-poo may be a better fit.

My experience with small breeds has been: a pup coming into a family with kids usually adapts better than kids coming after the dog. Make sure they are handled carefully by the kids as if they are pinched, pulled, loved too hard or roughed up in any way by the child's play, the dogs will not adapt to the kids and the relationship will be difficult.

Where to purchase, find a good breeder - and let your daughter help pick one out. I went through 2 different breeders to get ours and only one would I recommend. It has been a few years but if you're interested I can probably find the website.

Good luck,


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