Anyone who's spent time around dogs knows that every canine has her own unique personality. Fiona enjoys family time, while Dylan prefers his own company. Lounging the day away on the couch is appealing to Star, while Shep needs a job to fill his days. Your dog's age, breed, background and personality all impact the degree of supervision he'll need.
There's no getting around it: Puppies are adorable and often irresistible. They're also work and require a good deal of supervision. Adding a puppy to the family requires a commitment of time and patience because they need to be trained and socialized. If Boomer's still a puppy, leaving him unsupervised can cause all sorts of havoc, ranging from chewed shoes, pillows, clothing and more, to behavior issues, such as dominance and aggression. He'll also need regular supervision to help him learn the basics of potty training.
Dogs With Children
Certain dog breeds, such as Newfoundlands, fit well with kids; others, such as chow chows, pose more risk. Still, all dogs should be supervised when they're around small children. Even the best-behaved children can unintentionally hurt a dog in play, such as by pulling a tail or an ear, and even the best-behaved dog can snap in response. Since there's no determined age when it's fine to leave a child alone with a dog, you have to rely on common sense. Consider the child's and dog's histories, together and separately, when you think about leaving them alone together. If you wouldn't leave the child alone in the house, it's not a good idea to leave him alone with Boomer.
Potential for Aggression
Certain dog breeds, such as golden retrievers, are known for their laidback nature. Unfairly or not, certain breeds are considered to be more aggressive and therefore more at risk to act out, such as the American pit bull terrier, bull mastiff, German shepherd, husky, chow chow, Doberman pinscher and Akita. Obviously, dogs of these breeds are not categorically dangerous, and of course there are dogs from less risky breeds that can act out. A dog's background history, training, and individual personality combined is always more important than breed when it comes to aggression potential. Don't leave Boomer unsupervised until you learn his personality.
Busy or Bored
If you have a working dog, he'll likely be frustrated if he's left alone without a job to do for long periods of time. Dogs such as Jack Russell terriers were bred to hunt, while border collies and Australian shepherds instinctively herd. Spending time idle is difficult for them and they may take up bad habits, such as escaping or digging, out of frustration. Other dogs, such as the Brussels griffon, the cocker spaniel and Cavalier King Charles spaniel, aren't interested in work as much as providing companionship, and thus don’t need supervision per se -- they want to spend time spent together.
By Betty Lewis
Humane Society of the United State: Puppy Behavior Basics
Association of Pet Dog Trainers: Selecting a Dog for a Family with Children
ASPCA: Aggression in Dogs
Vet Street: The 10 Most High Maintenance Dog Breeds
About the Author
Betty Lewis has been writing professionally since 2000, specializing in animal care and issues, business analysis and homeland security. Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University as well as master’s degrees from Old Dominion University and Tulane University.