To say Boxers are good with kids is to put it mildly.
Boxers and kids share a huge affinity for each other. Usually the only danger is that Boxers — particularly when young themselves — are strong, excitable dogs.
In their exuberance they can accidentally knock over small children (and older folks unstable on their feet).
Dogs, including trustworthy ones, should always be supervised with youngsters, particularly babies and toddlers. You can never completely eliminate the risk that something will go wrong. All it takes is a split second.
Having said that, Boxers as a breed are known for being loyal defenders of children, as well as playmates.
How To Live Safely With Kids And Boxers
Children must be taught not to pull ears and tails and jowls, and to give a Boxer space.
Households with young kids can get pretty rowdy and chaotic. Create a den or quiet place for your Boxer where he knows he can always retreat for some peace and quiet.
Drill it into the kids to leave the dog alone when he goes there.
Bear in mind even the sweetest Boxer can react instinctively — and aggressively — if:
- threatened (by another dog or human)
- someone tries to take away food, or
- he thinks he needs to protect his owner/s
Boxers do feature in dog attack statistics and to deny the potential for problems does nobody any good — not the dog, nor the family with young children.
In 2019 Boxers killed two Americans, as did Australian Cattle Dogs and German Shepherds.
To put that in perspective, this makes them less dangerous than mixed breed dogs, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls.
(This last breed is consistently responsible for by far the majority of attacks on people of all ages. All the same, in the 15 years from 2005 to 2019, 35 different breeds were involved in fatal dog attacks — so it really is a matter of the individual dog and the particular situation they are put in.)
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says 4.5 million dog bites happen each year in the United States.
Children are the usual victims, with infants younger than 12 months the most at risk of being killed by a dog.
A study of pediatric dog bite injuries in Central Texas in 2019 found parents were not present at the time of the incident in a slight majority (56.4%) of cases.
Dogs, albeit beloved family members, are still another species.
It’s worth remembering they will never be 100 per cent predictable in every situation.
It’s up to you, as the owner, to keep everyone safe.
This starts with having a generally well behaved and socialized dog whose needs are always met. Make sure your Boxer doesn’t fall by the wayside. This means:
- structure in guaranteed time for daily exercise, play, training and mental stimulation
- expose your Boxer puppy to as many new situations as possible and desensitize him to anything that scares him, helping him build confidence
- do not overlook the role of diet and health in preventing behavioral problems
- avoiding kibble and feeding a fresh, raw, species-appropriate diet based on raw meaty bones is of critical importance
- neutering can trigger aggression, fear of storms and noise phobias in dogs of previously stable temperament, as well as increase the incidence of many serious diseases including mast cell tumors
- protect your Boxer from exposure to toxins like those in drugs, chemical wormers, flea and tick preventatives, vaccinations, tap water, lawncare chemicals, household cleaners and scented products
Make sure your Boxer is in no doubt that you are the alpha.
Having a strong leader will allow him to relax into the role of good follower dog, secure in the knowledge that you have things under control.
It will prevent him jostling for rank with other members of the “pack” who he might see as weak i.e. little ones.
Note that having more than one dog in the household heightens the risk because pack dynamics come even more into play.
Be aware that a dog’s temperament can change over time on the basis of his experiences (positive and negative), his health status and with ageing.
A Boxer’s behavior can be highly situational.
A dog rock solid in one environment can be a liability in another. Know your dog. Don’t put him in a situation without equipping him with the skills and experience to handle it appropriately.
Why Boxers Are Good Family Dogs
The Boxer temperament makes them almost the ultimate family dog.
On the pro side, Boxers are:
- fun loving and funny
- sweet natured
- not prone to snapping
- people dogs in the extreme
- not barkers
Boxer traits that can prove challenging around very young children include:
- Boxers are strong and powerful dogs (if improperly trained, a young Boxer will pull on the lead and be impossible for a young child to safely walk)
- they can be prone to jumping when young and excited
- they have it in them to be stubborn
- high energy and high intelligence (they must have sufficient physical and mental outlets to remain happy and balanced)
- Boxers are slow maturing and stay puppies forever (get used to the zoomies!)
What To Teach Children About Boxers
Make sure your child/ren know:
- To be the boss, but to be always gentle and kind
- How to read the signs a dog is not happy
- To be consistent with rules i.e. not allowed on the couch means always
- Not to feed their food to him (some things like chocolate can be deadly to dogs)
- To never pull, yank or hit your Boxer
- To keep gates and doors closed
- Not to bother your Boxer at dinnertime or when he’s chewing a raw meaty bone (Resource guarding in all its forms should be discouraged, but it’s good practice to give dogs space when they’re eating)
- Not to bother your Boxer when he’s in his bed, asleep or not feeling well
- Never to tease a dog
What To Teach Your Boxer About Your Kids
Most problems will be avoided by making sure your Boxer knows his place in the family hierarchy.
Children are above Boxers in the “pack”, not littermates.
You can send this message by making sure children eat before your Boxer, go through doors first etc. If the child is old enough, you can help reinforce the order of things by having them feed your Boxer his dinner.
It goes without saying to thoroughly and gradually socialize your Boxer to children. If the dog or the child is new, do things in small doses so your dog doesn’t become overwhelmed.
He needs to know to take all the color and movement in his stride, including:
- play fighting
The play fighting scenario bears special mention. If your Boxer misunderstands what’s going on here, there’s the risk he could attack your child’s friend during a sleepover, for instance, out of a misguided protective instinct.
As for face licking, you’ll have to make a call there about what’s acceptable — and enforce it. Once your Boxer knows what’s expected, he will obey and the behavior won’t be an issue.
Bringing Home A New Baby When You Have A Boxer
Parents report that it can help for dad to be the advance party, bringing home from the maternity ward a piece of clothing with the new baby’s scent on it.
This way the smell will be familiar when bubba makes her entrance with mum.
Your Boxer will be super inquisitive above the new arrival. Keep things low key, while letting him sniff her. Keep the introductions short and build on them. Soon your littlie will be napping on the floor with your Boxer conked out beside her.
With the all-consuming tsunami that is parenthood, there’s a risk your Boxer will feel supplanted in your affections. Make a point of maintaining his routine and be sure to spend quality time with him so that he knows he’s still loved.
Should You Get A Boxer Puppy When You Have A Newborn?
Coinciding a new puppy with a new baby equals a lot on your plate.
If you are an experienced dog owner who’s had Boxers before and knows all their idiosyncrasies, and this is not your first child, you might be able to swing it.
Otherwise, there’s probably smarter timing.
The trials of puppyhood range from potty training with its inevitable accidents to the nipping, biting phase. You don’t want to skimp on training your Boxer in basic obedience and more advanced life lessons. All this can easily get overwhelming when you’re underslept and overworked and when the little human has to be your first priority.
Hazards for a Boxer living with a busy young family include things like:
- soiled nappies (these can seem like food and the result could be intestinal blockage and surgery)
- food dropped or left within reach
- trash left unsecured
- medication left out or cupboard doors left open
- doors and gates left ajar
- baby socks and other non-food items that can be swallowed
… and many more.
Managing Your Boxer With Other People’s Children
According to an analysis by the nonprofit group DogsBite.org, a child visiting a household where a dog lives is one of the highest-risk scenarios for a dog attack to occur.
The reverse dynamic, a dog visiting a household where a child lives, is equally risky.
What makes it dangerous is that the the dog is in an unfamiliar or temporary setting.
Be particularly careful whenever your Boxer encounters children he doesn’t know or when he’s with children in new places.
Making sure nothing goes wrong is as much about protecting your Boxer, as it is about protecting the children.
It is the dog that will be impounded and destroyed if the worst happens.
Boxers are very compatible with family life and make brilliant companions for children.
But don’t take it for granted. Both children and dogs are apt to misjudge situations and make mistakes.
On the one hand, you must train your Boxer how to behave around children. But it’s equally necessary to teach your children how to treat a Boxer right.
Chances are they’ll be inseparable for life.