Ask the Trainer



Q: What’s the best dog breed for a daycare home? I need something safe with kids. No-shedding would be ideal too.

A: Choosing a dog is an exciting time for any family. Add the specific needs of an in-home daycare to the mix, and your choice becomes even more important.

It’s All About the Personality

Sue Smith of Paws Abilities Dog Training points out that “just because the dog is of a breed that tends to be of an easygoing nature, that doesn’t mean it will be good in a daycare setting.”

That’s because dogs are individuals. Just like you aren’t just like your siblings, not all dogs of the same breed are going to act the same way. Being related means that dogs (and people) likely share some similarities, but DNA combines in new ways each time a puppy or baby is made.

Important Factors

Jill Lebrun of Act V Rescue and Paws Abilities agrees. “Breed alone doesn’t predict being ‘best for kids.’” Instead, she recommends looking for other predictors that a dog will do well with small children, such as their “temperament, being well socialized to kids when young, and supervised interactions.”

Lebrun also advises learning to read body language before bringing any dog into a daycare setting. Subtle body language signals such as licking lips or turning their head away are signs that a dog is uncomfortable with the interaction, and can help the savvy daycare provider to avoid bad situations.

Adults, Not Puppies

So, how do you find the right personality? Smith has one important piece of advice: “opt for an adult dog.”

She points out several bonuses. “Older dogs often don’t require as much training. Potty training a puppy and running a daycare at the same time can be very challenging.” Puppies also nip, chew, and require constant supervision, which can be tough when you add children into the mix.

“[Adult dogs] have their personalities fairly set. You know if they startle easily or not,” says Smith. And they “have a history of known behaviors that make them more or less suitable for a daycare environment.”

Look for an adult dog who has lived successfully with children of the same age groups as your daycare kids, and who prefers children to adults. Don’t just go for a dog who tolerates kids—seek out one who adores them.

But what about shedding? Smith says that adult dogs are a better bet here, as well.

“Older dogs … have their adult coats with a known level of shedding. Even in the same breed it can vary quite drastically.” Puppies have a different coat type that changes at maturity (meaning that it can be hard to predict how much your puppy will shed).

So, where do you find this special adult dog? Plan to research for a few months, putting as much homework into your new family member as you would into a new house or car. If you prefer rescue, look for dogs who have been living in foster homes with children. Prefer going to a breeder? Ask about retired show dogs or breeding dogs who are looking for a great home.

More information:

Sara Reusche, CBCC-KA CPDT-KSA CVT, is owner of Paws Abilities Dog Training.