Great question! Unfortunately we don't have research that tells us what is best for adopting out dogs to homes with children. There's some older research (1990's) that found that people with small children in their homes were more likely to relinquish their pet to a shelter.
As a parent and a dog person, i struggle with this issue. I admit that i had to work to tamp down my anxiety every time I did an intro of a dog to a family with children, because we can't guarantee how things will go.
For the most part, i recommend a flexible policy. When my son was under 5, he was not the type of kid that was respectful of dogs, despite my best efforts. He required a lot of training and management to learn how to appropriately interact with dogs. But he learned- really well! I was so proud of him last year (when he was 11) - we met our neighbor's senior dog for the first time. I squatted down to get to know the dog, but CJ remained standing. I asked him why and he said 'She's an old dog and they might be cranky and not want to be touched. So i don't think it's a good idea for me to pet him but she's super cute.' So proud!
But now i'm off track :). Even though my son wasn't great when he was little, we had lots of foster dogs enter our lives during his early years. If orgs i volunteered for had had blanket statements of 'you can't foster or adopt jumpy dogs if you have kids under 5' and things like that, I know there would have been dogs that would have died due to that restriction. Did my son get knocked down by dogs? Yes Did my son harass a dog (by aggressively attempting to 'play') when he was 3, so much so that we had to return it? Yes. But that's real life. CJ learned how to not get jumped on. The dog that he harassed found a lovely home.
1. Avoid blanket statements
2. Create general guidelines. E.g. a general guideline of : if a dog has a history of low level biting over resources in a home environment - not adopting to homes with kids under ten. (having said this, i adopted a dog exactly like this when my son was 1, and everyone remained safe and happy)
3. Keep track of results - what happens with the dogs you adopt out. If we all collect data, over time we can learn what works and what doesn't.
4. Remember that just becuase one org has a policy, it might not be the right policy for your org. They may have more or less resources that you do, which will greatly impact your ability to keep people and pets safe.
Sheila Segurson, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
Sent: 05-25-2022 10:00 AM
From: Anonymous Member
Subject: Anyone have resources or guidelines on placing kid restrictions for adoptions?
This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
Our adoption and behavior teams are reassessing our protocols for evaluations and adoption restrictions. To be honest, we have a lot of dogs with kid restrictions broken down to age groups: below 5, 6-10 years etc. We currently don't have any written protocols on how to determine these restriction unless we specifically know a dog has previous experience with children. Anyone already have a training or resource guide that they use?