Updated: Aug 14, 2021
Labradoodles are well regarded as being sociable dogs and great with children.
In the main this is true, but as a responsible breeder I do make the following observations from years of experience.
Firstly, up to 16/20weeks old, the puppy's care and interaction is very much adult led. If we look at what happens to a puppy in the first few weeks you will understand what I mean. A puppy is removed from their mother and siblings and this can be a huge upheaval where they will naturally seek security and safety; this often comes from mature calmer children and adults. A puppy does not always like loud, physical and very bouncy young children.
Once established in the home, the puppy is then progressing through toilet training, very much an adult led activity.
Roll on another couple of weeks and we are well into the mouthing stage which I repeatedly say will upset and place stress on every member of the household who will also be scratched, nipped, bitten and bleed. This is not a fun time, and again requires adult led training plus boundaries for children and puppy.
Finally puppy emerges from the mouthing stage around 16/18weeks old, is toilet trained, has started attending obedience training and is more confident in body stability and surroundings....this is when the children come to the forefront and become friends.
I often hear the question 'I want a puppy that is good with children.'
The response in my head is always 'and I want a home where the children are good with a puppy.'
All dogs can be great with children...providing the children are respectful of the puppy coming into their home, and the onus is on the adults here too.
A child that pokes, pulls, grabs, lifts, disturbs, chases, harasses and shouts in a puppy's face is not an appropriately behaved child, and will receive a negative response from any tolerant dog of any breed.
Parents need to prepare the young child for the incoming puppy and make sure rules are in place. This includes; when puppy is sleeping, eating or chewing a treat that the child does not disturb the puppy.
Puppies are not teddy bears and whilst children want to continually pick a puppy up to hold and squeeze tightly in a loving manner, this just cannot happen. The puppy loathes it, puppy hates it, trust me....and puppy will start with the lip lifting and then the growl.
Instead have the children sitting on the floor with puppy and playing under adult supervision.
When puppies are 5-6 months old they are generally to large to be lifted by children and play is more fun, more companionable and more responsive.
I adore the photo below. This is one of Hattie's puppies, a lovely large medium black male dog. You can see from the eye contact and body language between dog and child that there is a trust, a respect, a friendship and mutual affection.
This did not happen without the puppy being raised well, and without the child having boundaries and an understanding of animal respect.
No dog ever needs lifted, squeezed. pulled, prodded, jumped on, straddled, grabbed, screamed at, pushed, kicked or harassed. It does happen sadly.
Please see my website page Children & Dogs for more information, posters and a video clip. https://www.northboundaustralianlabradoodles.com/children-and-dogs
I also recommend for children the book 'Jack and Billy Puppy Tales' by Steven Goodall.
In a litter it is also worth noting that not every puppy feels comfortable with young children. Should your family have children younger than 7years old, or you have regular visiting grandchildren below 7years old, then I will insist they come to the puppy choosing weekend so we can make sure that the right temperament puppy is chosen.